I am not a psychologist by any means nor have I studied psychology to the extent that I can say I’m an expert in the subject to which I am writing about. This writing is more from my observations and thoughts through the years.
There’s something to be said for those that over-share their personal business, but more importantly, it leaves the question of WHY share so much personal business to someone who’s virtually a stranger to you. How can you gage how that person will react. How do you know you can trust that person with your personal information.
I have found that people like to share their issues about work or the company as a starting ground and perhaps to see if the person they are speaking to can be trusted. Once they feel they can be trusted then the sharer may move into their personal life and the issues, or supposed issues they are having. Now here’s where it gets tricky.
The spewing about work concerns/issues is common thing done by everyone for we look for support from others and more than likely, advice on how to handle a certain situation. Some take the advice and apply it and thus resolve their issue. Some hear the advice, but do nothing with it and thus continue to complain. Those people are not seeking advice but just like to hear themselves talk and seek sympathy. In turn, this rolls right over into over-sharing of their personal life.
Over sharing of personal information is really a dangerous ground to walk. The information that’s being shared may mark the person as having too many personal problems that could possibly interfere with work or mark them as possibly being unstable. But more importantly it subjects them to office gossip that once the story reaches the fifth person, the possible truth has now turned into a gossip hound’s favorite obsession.
But why do people over-share? Is it for sympathy? Is it a need for attention? Or is it for the drama effect?
For sympathy: Some people like to over-share to get sympathy. They may start out small.
Judy likes to talk about how her father is sick with terminal cancer. Once she feels she has the sympathy of another or many, depending on her target, she may move up the son who died in car crash 10 years ago and just keep moving on up and continue to play the sympathy card over and over again. If she finds the right person(s) her sympathy card may never run out. But will Judy be willing to listen to others? Probably not. Or, she’ll take what they have just said and make it about her.
For attention: Lack of attention as a child leads a person to seek that throughout their lives (not all, but some) or, as child, saw people running to a parent’s aid or a siblings aid when they would speak of bad things happening to them. Perhaps they learned this was the only way they can get people to notice them.
For drama: These are the ones that turn a pebble into a mountain. Everything is a big ordeal from diminutive projects at work to delivering mail to the post office. And its not the project or having to go to the post office that over dramatized, but what happened during the process. The project could be copying files and copier get jammed and its an easy fix. But the way the victim will tell it, the paper jam took one hour to clear and caused numerous paper cuts to the hand in which 15 stitches were needed. The trip to the post office could be a car pulled in front of the person and then broke down, thus blocking traffic while running of the bulls took place on top of their (the victim’s) car.
We are all guilty of over-sharing at one time or another. We all at some point in our lives wanted sympathy, attention or a little drama, but knowing when to draw the line is a problem for some and thus can get a label put on them that they may not want. Seeking sympathy is not the same has being labeled a “sympathy seeker”. Seeking attention is not the same as “attention getter” and seeking drama is definitely not the same as being labeled a “drama queen”.
But being labeled something is the last thing on the over-share’s mind. Being remembered as the person who husband cheats on them, or who has a mother in prison for prostitution or who’s father abused them or is an alcoholic is not what they are concerned about having hanging over their heads.
The over-sharing spoken about above was of the verbal kind. But what about the written kind – such Facebook, Myspace (yeah, I said Myspace), Twitter, to name a few.
Myspace used to be the place to speak, vent, cry, shout, what-have-you, but then came along Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter allows people to give a short over-share – its so short you don’t feel like people are over sharing there, but, turn on to Facebook Lane and you’ll find a mansion of over-sharers.
The written over-sharer shares the same names as the verbal over-sharer – you still have the sympathy getter, the attention getter and the drama queens and some kings. But what sets Facebook apart from the verbal is its there forever and by time you realize that probably you shouldn’t have posted it, 20 people have read it.
Facebook has become a bit of a venting ground as well. You are able to talk to a number of friends at once, but what about the friends of those friends and the friends of those friends and so on. Kinda like that Albertson’s commercials that was on a while back, “I told two friends and they told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on.” People think they have a handle on things when they set their privacy setting or block certain people that are on their friend’s list from seeing their post (yeah you can do that – kinda of a safe way of deleting someone without really deleting them and not hurting their feelings or causing problems). But people have to remember it’s the Internet and what happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas.
Think before you over-share verbally or written. Don’t start over-sharing after a few days of meeting someone and don’t get offended if you’ve shared too much with someone and all of sudden they are avoiding eye contact with you in the hallway or have your posts hidden on Facebook or removed you from their Twitter list.
Keep the over-sharing to a few close friends and only share what you don’t mind getting around or back to the person you have just vented about.