We love social media. It is an undeniable part of daily life now, and for the most part, that’s okay. Unfortunately, sometimes it can all get too much and we start oversharing personal things on social media.
We all know someone whose social media is flooded with stories that are too personal and too detailed to be shared so publicly. There are people who share every minor moment.
Oversharing on social media is common and there are some serious psychological reasons behind why we do it.
Oversharing can be dangerous. Not only are we often giving away private information like our location, but we’re also often saying things that could jeopardize our jobs. Even when our settings are set to private, there’s usually always a way for our information to be shared publicly without our consent.
One of the most straight forward reasons behind oversharing on social media is this: no one has to know who you are. Social media sometimes feels a little like shouting into the void, as if no one will hear it.
When we overshare on our social media accounts, we experience a delay in returned communication. We don’t have to face the repercussions of our confessions immediately like we would if we revealed a secret in person. We don’t have to see the faces of others and we don’t have to experience the awkwardness.
Sometimes, when we overshare on social media, we also fill in our own blanks. We can decide how others will react without ever having to hear it for real.
Because of this anonymity, we can overshare all sorts of sordid details about our lives. When we’re posting under our own name, the world seems too far away to notice us. If we want more secrecy, we can even disguise our name.
Our voices are diluted online, allowing us to yell our secrets into a crowd of millions. It feels private, even when it’s incredibly public.
A Lack of Authority
Unlike at work, school, or even at home, there are no authority figures online. Social media is a free-for-all. We can overshare all we like because there’s no one to stop us.
Free speech isn’t always a good thing though. We reveal our political alliances, our morals, and values like it’s nothing. In public, we’d never open up with such personal details until we really knew a person.
We also forget that social media isn’t all that private. Although our bosses, teachers, and parents might not be watching us in person, there’s no real way to hide our words from them, even if they don’t follow our accounts directly.
Of course, we all assume that anyone who overshares on social media is doing it for attention. We wouldn’t always be wrong on this theory, though I like to pretend that it’s not an all too common reason. Sometimes though, people just want their 15 minutes of fame.
As humans, we crave attention. We want to be in people’s thoughts, and we love to know that others are looking, hopefully admiringly, at us. We usually want our selfies, stories and hilarious tweets to catch someone’s attention and bring us some notoriety.
On the other hand, some people overshare every detail because they genuinely believe other people care. Sometimes, a person’s narcissistic nature means they think even their most mundane moments are important.
These people thrive off the approval that comes from a “like” even when it was done out of habit or kindness, rather than genuine interest.
In contrast to the self-centered reasons for some, low self-esteem is a common reason why others might overshare on social media. When we’re feeling down about ourselves, we seek the reassurance and approval of others.
When someone feels insecure about their image, they seek out compliments, or even just passive likes, as a way of feeling better. One selfie can bring instant reassurance that people do “like” the way we look. The rush we get from this approval makes us want to do it again, and ultimately overshare ourselves.
Similarly, we tend to always display what we feel are our best qualities and moments. When we do something we think is interesting or take a selfie we think is attractive, we post it far and wide, so as many people as possible will see it.
We overshare all sorts of things that don’t need to be seen by acquaintances we’ve long forgotten, but we want them to see it. We want to be seen as cool or attractive, even if it’s not real.
It’s a sort of “say it enough times and you’ll start to believe it” situation. We’ll flood our social media accounts with too much information or too many pictures, hoping the quantity will amount to someone, somewhere, thinking that’s who we really are.
The same applies to low self-esteem resulting from our personalities, achievements and life situations. Sometimes, when we post self-deprecating statuses or pictures with sad captions, we get a rush of support.
The flood of compliments, pep talks and love are addictive. This leads people to keep oversharing deeper and deeper personal stories on social media, just to receive some reassurance that we aren’t as bad as we feel.
In a not too different way, we could be oversharing on social media because we feel alone. Social media gives us an opportunity to tell the world our stories without the repercussions we would have in real life. When we speak out about our secrets, our problems and our concerns, we often learn that we aren’t alone.
Often, people take to their social media accounts to reveal things. They’re then met with a community of people who feel the same or have experienced the same thing. Suddenly, they’re not alone anymore. Oversharing isn’t always a terrible thing, as long as it’s met by likeminded people.
There are forums and groups on social media sites that cater to every story, and thus, oversharing is welcomed because it’s falling on ears that want to hear it.
Be careful what you overshare online because you can’t take it back. Social media is an incredible place to share your story but consider this rule: never post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. If she shouldn’t see it, neither should acquaintances from years gone by.
Once you’ve worked out your reasons for it, you can fix those instead of turning to your social media accounts.
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