Recently I discovered that you can change the privacy settings on individual Facebook albums, and even set them to be viewed only by you. I’ve been on Facebook since 2006, so a LOT of my pre-blogging life is documented there. At least once a week my Timehop app or the “on this day” notifications in Facebook show me pictures and status updates that remind me what an over-sharer I can be!
I spent several hours over the last two weeks changing all the old albums to “private” (so don’t go looking for them – they’re gone, ha!) and was really embarrassed by what I’ve left sitting on the internet all these years. It’s not just bad outfits or the lack of eyebrows that bother me (although those things were certainly disturbing), it’s the way in which I shared things that bothers me. I realize now that I said things to receive approval from certain groups of people. I wanted to be accepted, to be thought of as funny, smart, perceptive, attractive and fulfilled. In reality, I was looking for those things in the wrong place!
Over the years I’ve learned to reign in my over-sharing – even as someone with a frequent internet presence on my blog, Instagram and YouTube channel. Here’s how – I think of it the same way I think of the movie rating system. When you see a movie preview on TV, that green screen at the beginning says, “This preview has been approved for all audiences.” If a movie is rated PG-13, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t ever be seen by anyone. It just means it’s not suitable for everyone.
The same goes for what we share on the internet. Not every thought that goes through your head is suitable for everyone. Some of those thoughts do add value to your Facebook friends – some of those thoughts should just be shared with your close friends or sister. There’s no general rating system for what’s considered over-sharing. It is different for each person. What I consider suitable for all audiences might be too much for you, or vice versa. That’s ok (although it might involve one of us unfollowing the other. And that’s ok too).
A few weeks ago I talked about boundaries in social media and there were some really great comments on that video. I want to share a few of them with you here because they said it better than I could, especially in relation to social media and children.
- I have been thinking more about my social media boundaries as my kids are getting older and what kinds of things I want to share. I think I’ll need to have boundaries that will need to be adjusted and reevaluated every year.
- I know that as fun as it is for me to share these moments in the life of our family, they will soon be grown and may not want people to be able to google their names and easily access details of several years of their lives.
- Two young ladies who are wives and mothers that I know are constantly doing Facebook live posts to talk about their inner feelings. These are things they should share with a best friend but not the whole list of their social media friends and acquaintances. As an older woman I would really like to caution them about this as it has become a habit.
This is honestly just a topic that I’ve been thinking about for myself and decided to share with you. I would never write a blog post to single anyone out. Over-sharing is a temptation to all of us! When we’re irritated or worked up, it’s so enticing to share those feelings with the largest audience possible. When we feel alone or overwhelmed, it’s enticing to seek validation from the most immediate source. That’s when it’s time to ask ourselves – is this content suitable for all audiences?
Your comments are always welcome, but please be kind and respectful if you do not agree with me.
14 thoughts on “Confessions Of A Former Over-Sharer”
Thank you for sharing this Whitney, I too am guilty of this, but the thing I find myself doing more an more is expressing my opinion about things I really don’t need to. I’ve always been one that roots for the underdog, not intentionally, but because I can’t stand to see people or animals being mistreated. It’s just my makeup. I’m having a hard time with wanting to speak my mind about the President right now, because if anyone is being mistreated it’s him. But, after your post today, I’m going to be more mindful of what I say and how I say it or just not say it. I don’t know how to go through and change my setting very well in FB, but I’m going to make it a point to learn.
It’s definitely tempting to get involved in those online discussions. 🙂 I’ve really benefitted from just staying away from Facebook most of the time. I’ll log in to look at a couple of things and then log out for 24 hours. It is amazing how much better I feel without listening to everyone’s opinions all day long. 🙂
The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it can be hard to get rid of things once they’re out there. Thinking before posting/sharing is always a good idea!
You’re right – once it’s out there, it’s gone!
All of your posts have given me lots to think about lately. I enjoy documenting my family and my life, but I remind myself regularly that there’s no need to document every single thing. It kind of takes the fun out of sharing for me when I feel like I have to photograph every event, every recipe or every moment. Sometimes I just sit back enjoying the moment knowing that it’s something special just for me. I have found myself unfollowing people when I feel bogged down with the amount of content they are sharing.
Me too, friend! I’ve unfollowed several people lately and have enjoyed the extra “space” in my brain.
Great points Whtiney! I definitely have to be somewhat mindful when I know my kids are reading…or worse yet THEIR friends are reading what I write. I also have a sailors mouth (ugh…I know) but I would never just drop all those words in a post because I’m not necessarily proud of it even if I still do it. I do feel there is sometimes value in oversharing things we are battling with and going through…but I always think it’s best to do that after there has been some self evaluation and realization about the why…is it for attention or is the intent to truly try to reach out and help someone else.
Shelly|The Queen in Between
Absolutely, Shelly! You’re so right – and everyone has to decide what boundaries they will set for themselves.
So very true. I deleted Facebook after Christmas and reluctantly started again in February. It’s Mainly to be part of a private church group and at the urging of individual family members. I do not share much and I too, am embarrassed by what I once shared. We started a blog instead for family and friends to follow, and we are avoiding the political and angry discussions that way as well. I think we all went a little nutty in oversharing at the beginning of social media, but we’ve learned to reign it in. You continue to inspire me, Whitney! Best, Cari.
I try to log out of Facebook regularly – I find that I didn’t miss anything crucial and I got more done! 🙂 Thanks, Cari! ❤
Validation is definitely a motivator to over sharing…you are wise in counseling your readers that what they share on the internet may come back to haunt them.
Yes, and I’m speaking from experience! I wonder if people remember how over the top I used to be with sharing! Yikes.
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