Keep A Lid On It: Has Your Love Of Sharing Gone Too Far?
We all love confiding in our nearest and dearest but Rosemary Mac Cabe reckons it's time to start keeping schtum.
Sharing is caring – but is it really? For years, we’ve been labouring under the illusion that a problem shared is a problem halved, and that talking about your issues will immediately make them seem smaller. And while, in certain cases – when you’re experiencing mental health problems, for example, or experiencing a bereavement – sharing is the best course of action, there are other times when discretion is to be advised.
You know, like when you’re really, really annoyed with your other half – and feel the need to share every single thing about their latest foible with your work colleagues, or when you’ve had a particularly disastrous bout of food poisoning, and find yourself filling your best mate in on every teeny tiny detail, on the phone, while you’re on the bus.
When everyone and their uncle knows exactly why you and your ex broke up, it might be time to re-evaluate your sharing tendencies.
Kate, 28, says that she’s most definitely been guilty of oversharing – and she knows exactly what’s to blame. “It’s social media!” she laughs. “I feel like Twitter, and Instagram especially, have given us this little look into other people’s lives, so we know way more about them than we would usually, and it makes it seem really normal to tell everyone everything.”
There’s no doubt that the online sphere is where a lot of us do our oversharing – from harmless shots of our weekday breakfasts (no one cares, trust us) to slightly more bothersome post-one-night-stand snaps (yep, that’s really a thing). But when we’re being led by the example of rich, privileged A-listers whose lives seem utterly enviable, can we really be blamed?
“Celebrities make it look so normal, weirdly,” says Aoife, 34, who’s currently undergoing a social media ban – for reasons that will become obvious. “I found myself meeting up with friends for lunch, and I’d go, ‘oh, I went to Dundrum the other day…’ and they’d interrupt me and go, ‘I know’. I had nothing left to tell them that I hadn’t already Tweeted, Instagrammed or Snapchatted about! It left no room for real life.”
It’s one thing telling your loyal followers every single detail about your daily grind (breakfast, lunch, dinner, your commute…) but it’s quite another when you find yourself crossing that line and losing all sense of discretion.
“I’d been seeing this guy for a few weeks – I can laugh about it now, but I did really like him at the time,” Aoife recalls. “One night, he was staying over in mine, and we were both quite pissed – he put on a pair of my knickers and started dancing around the room. I didn’t even think twice about it, and picked up my phone and snapped a video and uploaded it… When we woke up the next morning, he had all these texts from his mates – I didn’t even know they were following me on Snapchat.”
Suffice it to say, Mr Frilly Knickers was not impressed. “He was so angry… I told him that I’d meant to send it privately to a friend, but he seemed to think that was just as bad,” she confides. “It was actually just the worst thing. I started crying, he was just… He was that kind of white angry, like he went totally pale. I apologised so much, but I never heard from him again. I texted him about a week later, thinking the dust might have settled, and he just responded telling me never to contact him again.”
Hers is a cautionary tale – albeit on the slightly extreme end – but Kate reckons a lot of arguments between friends, and within relationships, are about differing attitudes to social sharing.
“I’ve seen it with my friends, and their partners or family; some of them love sharing everything, and the others think it’s really stupid, and unnecessary,” she says. “They can get quite heated about it! You kind of forget that, if you’re out having lunch or dinner with someone, you’re sharing their experience online, too. It’s not just about you.”
Our devil-may-care attitude to privacy and strong tendency to share the minutiae of our lives online also has ramifications IRL; when was the last time you found yourself holding back when chatting to friends about, say, your love life – or your work colleagues’ bad habits?
“It definitely has a knock-on effect,” says Aoife. “Since I cut down on social media, I’ve found myself trying to listen more, during conversations. You get so used to it being ‘The Aoife Show’, you kind of forget how not to share! And I think my relationships definitely suffered as a result.”
The take-home? Think before you tweet, Snap or Instagram – and, if in doubt, keep it to yourself. “I’ve never regretted keeping a secret,” confirms Kate. “And, y’know, if I still really wanna tell someone, I can tell them tomorrow!”
Have your say