Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Art of Overshare

When I was younger, my friends and I had great conversations. We laughed together, cried together, and shared the stuff of life. However, not once did I ever see a picture of what any of them had for dinner. Nor did we ever have a moment to moment journal of what our pervading emotion of the day was, complete with an emoji or two. Shoot. We didn’t even know what an emoji was.

Now, though, in this enlightened age, all I have to do is turn on my computer, swipe my phone, or pull out my tablet and all this information and more, oh, so much more, is eagerly available. 

Let me be clear. I love people. A people person I am. Put me in a room with strangers and I’ll find a way to start a conversation with most of them and find out more about their lives.

But I do believe we have entered into the age of overshare.  Whether it be stark details of an elementary school classmate’s colonoscopy, the political rantings and hate speech of a distant relative, or the vivid picture of a crusty sore on the arm of a former colleague, I feel I know too much these days.

Social media has swerved into a realm no one could have predicted. It is a world where personal boundaries are stretched, where what used to be intimate information is put on the plate for public consumption. In a doctor’s office recently, I sat a chair over from two young women who were going through the medical history form. They worked through it interview style, with one conversationally asking the other the questions on the form, then writing down the answers. They took no pause for even the most private questions, keeping their vocal registers at the same level they’d use for a talk in a loud bar.

An older gentleman cleared his throat abruptly after one particularly personal detail from the interviewee echoed off the brightly lit walls. The twentysomethings, though, plowed on, even as the questions begat answers that would their mothers cringe.

Close to the end of the second page, the interviewer stopped and laughed. “Can you believe these questions?” she asked as she swept her hand over the sheet with her handwritten answers. “I’ve got to get a picture of this.” She pulled out her phone, focused and snapped a few pictures of the almost completed medical history and then moved in close to her friend, held the phone in front of them and after they’d both mashed their mouths into duck lips, snapped several more. She showed the phone to her friend, who swiped her finger across the screen and nodded.

“It’s fine for Reddit, but on Instagram, be sure you use that collage frame with the really cute bandaids on it. That way they’ll know the torture we’re having to go through at the doctor’s office!” They chortled as the phone holder fiddled momentarily with it.

“We’ve already got eight likes on Facebook,” she informed the other. “Maybe we’ll break 100 before you are done with your appointment!”


So I put it to you, dear friends. Are we in an age of overshare, or am I stuck in the past, thinking a little mystery about a person is a good thing? 

56 comments:

  1. We are there no doubt. Two weeks ago, in the ER, a friendly greeting eventually morphed into a young woman sharing her medical history with Sylvia and me. That happened twice. Yikes!

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    1. I do not know what goes through people's minds when they are in the midst of sharing so much. It is truly a different age!

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  2. Oh, dear. I prefer a little mystery, and I have it with Willy Dunne Wooters. He doesn't want to talk about some things, and neither do I. He thinks I am a bit of a prude, however--the first time I've ever been accused of that. When my children were growing up, they were embarrassed if I so much as said "hello" to someone in public. Now, the world has access to all sorts of information about them. BUT if I ask them a questions about something they've posted on Facebook, the seas rise up, the mountains fall, and Zeus threatens to strike me dead. Apollo has darn near turned me into Cassandra. I keep saying, If you don't want people to know, then why do you post it on Facebook? I am so confused.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I'm with you, my friend. I join you in the company of the confused and I fear I'm too old to learn.

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    2. I don't think you're too old to learn. I think you're too wise to participate in pure foolishness.

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    3. You always bring a smile to me!

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  3. Are we? Unquestionably, inarguably. Shelly, I just completed my post for tomorrow on STSTT. Would you believe it addresses the same topic? I like Janie's comment; I am confused, too.

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    1. I look forward to reading your take on it! Perhaps if enough of us who are more...seasoned...voice our opinions, we can cause others to look at things a little differently...

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  4. That was extremely stupid of them! I cannot think of another word to describe it!

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    1. Exactly my thoughts! To have your complete medical history available in various forms of social media is the nadir of this age.

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  5. And it seems that people are not only not embarrassed by the oversharing, they are PROUD of it! I'm not sure of where the lack of boundaries originated, but it seems to be a very ego-centered thing ... and as Roshni says, it is not smart at all in the case you describe.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head. It is all ego driven. They just don't realize how many awful things they set themselves up for by putting such private details out there. I'm glad I'm old, I think.

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  6. Bud and I were just talking about this TODAY in fact. As we waited for a light to change green, I glanced around to all those next to us, and in the rear view mirror on the passenger side...each driver had a cellphone and they were in use!!! I then asked Bud..."What would the world be like now if we had this technology back in the 50s when we were youngsters...I know, you probably wasn't a twinkle in your daddy's eye when we were kids...but hey...the concept of this sharing personal information has gone overboard...and I so agree!!!! There is no privacy....and the patrons/cellphone users/computer geeks...are mostly to blame...'cause they DO share too much!!!

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    1. Yes, even though drivers can get ticketed for texting, they still do it! I guess nothing will deter them. Our generations were the last to grow up with some common sense-

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  7. My ego isn't so big that I think every thought in my head needs to be expressed and shared. When I do want to express a thought, I'll use artistry to express it. The nonsense being Tweeted and texted today is so much nonsense. It's less communication, and more electronic diarrhea.

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    1. Electronic diarrhea is the most fitting description I've heard of this. Indeed-

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  8. Not only do people not have filters, they swear worse than sailors.

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    1. And I think it's getting worse...

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  9. It's such a crazy, crazy world. No one has any pride, modesty, or even common sense anymore. I can't imagine sharing such personal details OUT LOUD in a waiting room; not to mention on social media. Nuts.

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    1. This generation makes me concerned. So little good judgement and common sense...

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  10. I see things all the time and say to myself: I don't think I would have shared that :)
    R

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    1. I think the same thoughts, and I'm afraid one day it's going to come out of my mouth!

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  11. I am working on a memoir. And this oversharing mania makes me wonder if this is a worthwhile endeavor. At some point, will we stop caring? Have we already stopped caring?

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    1. Jenny, what you are writing is something so valuable, something we as a people need. Well written memoirs like yours bring understanding, growth, and acceptance. Ego driven, foolhardy, and poorly chosen snippets like what these girls were doing can serve no good purpose. Please, write! We need you, my friend!

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    2. Thanks for saying that...you always bring me to a happy space in my heart. Your reassurance all these years has been an incredible gift.

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    3. Jenny: I can't WAIT to read your memoir- it fills me with excitement just thinking about it!

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  12. This is why I am not on social media (except for blogging). No facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, reddit, flickr...
    But I am missing pictures from Japan right now because I am not on facebook. Hummm....

    I am puzzled when people don't realize that whatever they put out there in cyberspace is out there for the entire world to see...like scammers and conmen, future and current employers, the very people you are saying those nasty things about...makes no sense to me. In the old days (not that long ago) I was told many times that in conversation I was too open about my life. But these days I wouldn't even be in the running--LOL! I was also one who could be dumped in a roomful of strangers and could start up a conversation with just about anybody. But online there is no way to read body language, eyes, tone of voice, facial expressions...no wonder the art of conversation seems to be going the way of the hand-written letter.

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    1. So true- the art of communication has lost much in it's cyber counterfeit. Where has common sense gone? I cannot for the life of me understand the reasoning of people who put intimate details of their lives in the biggest arena of all.

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  13. I think we are definitely on over share. People always have iPhone cameras out, snapping pictures of everything. When I was on vacation, I couldn't believe all the people taking selfies on the beach, in restaurants, on the street. Crazy! I'm sure they were all posted on Instagram and Facebook. I'm on Facebook and Twitter, but I don't like to post many things of a personal nature. I do career related things, and occasionally, I'll share a few pictures. Not often - because I like a little privacy.

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    1. I'm on FB, and I like to post pictures of flowers and our dog, etc., but the level of intimate details people post there really makes me uncomfortable. I suspect at some point there's going to be a backlash. At least I hope so.

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  14. You are such a good writer. You have put in the most polite way the complaints people have about the internet. I have heard people curse about Facebook and yet they themselves do not refrain from doing things that can hurt others. I am not on Face book and therefore I am spared of the heart ache.
    NICE POST. I would never have been able to to write like this. Thanks.

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    1. Munir: I have a love/ hate relationship with Facebook. I just wish people, especially the young ones, would realize the damage they do to themselves with what they post. And thank you, friend!

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  15. Oh yeah we are living in an age of overshare, the youth of today don't get say it forget it share it , it's always there

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    1. Jo-Anne: Probably there for the rest of their lives, unfortunately~

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  16. Yes, we are. I have to admit that I do love to share, but I do try to be very circumspect about it....x

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    1. jazzygal: I do enjoy FB, but I, too, try to be very careful about what I post. I wish others had the same sense of caution~

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  17. Oh, Shelly, tooooo true. Some days I can hardly stand to even think about what comes in on our pcs. I just do NOT understand why anyone would think someone else would be interested in the teensiest tiny details of their lives. For this very reason, I do NOT Tweet or Instagram or several other things. ...But then I am not part of this current generation. :) My grandchildren think I am funny - but really old-fashioned. And I am okay with that. :) Blessings to you - for NOT oversharing. :) - Marsha

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    1. I think it is more wisdom than being old fashioned, and I hope the younger generations soon will take hold of that!

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  18. Yes, I think that we are in and overshare world. I wouldn't mind back to the old days, a little mystery is better.

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    1. You are so right- a little mystery is a good thing!

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  19. We are in an age of overshare, no doubt about it. But what scares me more is the constant constant CONSTANT looking at the cell phones by everyone, everywhere. We are missing so much of life by looking down into these screens all the time. Very sad.

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  20. I can see both sides of the coin here Shelly. As a nurse, I have seen and heard things that would embarrass most people, and so I am not as sensitive to sharing of details. But I feel that if a person is going to share details, then it needs to be accompanied by a little forethought, and done in the right context. I have always made sure I protected my patients' privacy, and have always been sensitive to their surroundings.

    Having said that, I am also guilty of sharing details of my own life in my blog, and on social media. But mostly I try to make sure it has a purpose. It is either done for humor, to inform, or to evoke an emotion in those who read my postings. Photography is a great way to share I think, but I am totally turned off when I see Instagram accounts that are nothing but selfies, and the sole purpose is to gain followers.

    I believe social media, done right, provokes thoughtful conversation, and helps us to understand our fellow human beings. It is a way of showing us the connection we all share.

    Now, having spewed all my thoughts, I think what you witnessed in the doctor's office was just plain insensitiviity and bad manners on the part of the two young women. That sort of thing pollutes social media. And it is one reason I am glad I can pick and choose who I want to follow.

    Wonderful, thought provoking post Shelly.

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  21. Yes, definitely we are oversharing everything in this day and time.

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  22. I have pretty broad boundaries (as you've undoubtedly noticed), so I'm okay with the overshare. However, one area that I would like a bit more mystery is with people's anger. When I get on FB, and I read a rant--almost spitting--it's really off putting and makes me like the writer of it less.

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  23. I have pretty broad boundaries (as you've undoubtedly noticed), so I'm okay with the overshare. However, one area that I would like a bit more mystery is with people's anger. When I get on FB, and I read a rant--almost spitting--it's really off putting and makes me like the writer of it less.

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  24. I thnk we have to ask the upcoming generation about that. I suspect that sharing too much will become uncool before all that long. It will be interesting to see.
    I hope blogging continues though - that is fun.

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  25. I thnk we have to ask the upcoming generation about that. I suspect that sharing too much will become uncool before all that long. It will be interesting to see.
    I hope blogging continues though - that is fun.

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  26. Oh my goodness, I absolutely agree... its shocking the way people speak out and share some things that should be private... No Decorum.. Ray and I were out having dinner and the table near us was full of young men. The language was loud foul and to them funny. I waited for ray to say something and when he didn't I did.. I find that and written profanities to be offending also.

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  27. Completely agree. But I do have a NG daughter who doesn't believe in updating her every action on social media...so there are some who don't believe and do it!

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  28. Yes we are, however...for the people locked into their homes or for those without much social contact, this way is a blessing for them. I also have met so many lovely people on here, YOU for one who I otherwise may never have met... Just imagine, you, a happy go lucky sweet person in Texas and me an aging nutter in Oz, far across the ocean from each other, and yet I count you as friend. I don't get onto Blogger as much as once and that's because I walk much better now and my 3 adult children who live close by are always here with my grandchildren. Family comes first. But tonight here I am, while Ray watches the tennis on the telly. . I may not get to visit again for a while, but when I do I know I am welcome and you will still be my friend. Hug across the world. xx

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  29. Oh, my stars, Shelly, you have undoubtedly hit one of the most sensitive "collective nerves" in the universe with this post. If one more person offers to tell me about their latest test, I think I'll just interrupt them and ask, "All I need to know was 'did you pass the test?" - and if so, discussion over. Do you think that might work? Just asking ..... Marsha

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  30. Undersharing: Stories by Shelly on La Tijana. Just sayin'.

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  31. Dear Shelly, this thought provoking essay was posted this past April so you, too, must be taking a hiatus from blogging. I've returned and I'm glad that yours is one of the first blogs I've read. Like you, I'm dazed by all the sharing of what seems to me not only personal but somewhat intimates details of peoples' lives. I thought my response to all this information was perhaps because of my age, but maybe others, like you, younger, are also wary of being overwhelmed by what people want to share today. I hope all is well in your life. I'm wondering if you've decided to do substitute teaching this year or if you have truly retired. Peace.

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  32. When witnessing things like what you've described, the ol' folks used to say, "She must not have enough to do."
    I guess I'm one of the ol' folks now :) Though, two of my 3 kids are still teens and one of them is especially productive but still manages to find time for a bit of silliness on social media. The other one finds more time for it... hence, her lack of productivity in certain areas. But, I'm proud of her. She's had a job since the age of 14.

    2015 was not a good year of blogging for me. I'm hoping to renew my vigor this year. Maybe I'll see you back online with your wonderful stories, too.

    Whatever you're doing... I hope you and your family are well and will have a Happy New Year!
    ...and that you're enjoying your new pursuits!

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