Oct 13, 2015

The Surprising Benefit Of Over-Sharing On Social Media

Over the past three years, I’ve discovered that I really enjoy writing. Like… a LOT, a lot.

Along with this realization has come my personal practice of sharing a ton of super personal things on Facebook.

Sometimes I was doing it to let off some steam…

over-sharing on social media

Sometimes I was doing it to let people know that they weren’t alone in wanting less small talk…

over-sharing on social media

But, really, I was doing it because I wanted to feel like I was being more transparent in general. As I started to write, I began to realize that I was coming out of a five year period of very little vulnerability (publicly or privately)… and I saw telling my secrets to the world as a way to heal the thoughts that I was most afraid of sharing with others.

Inevitably, along with the 99% positive reactions I would receive from my posts, there was always the 1% of commenters and private-messagers who were taken aback and/or offended by most posts.

There were the “Umm wow… maybe you should keep that to yourself?” ’s, and the “Dude! TMI!” ’s.

But overall, I felt great about sharing “too much information” with my readers.

Why? Here’s why.

I believe that over-sharing on social media is leading our entire world to a more open, honest, understanding, and less shame-based global culture.

Shame thrives in isolation. Or that same idea said in another way… when we are feeling shameful about ourselves, our actions, our thoughts, or our way of being in the world… we think that it’s ONLY US who suffers in our unique way.

We think, “I must be the only person in the world who thinks like this/lives like this/acts like this,” and then we often beat ourselves up around whatever that “unique” thing is in our minds.

And there’s even an expression for that exact feeling.

“The more personal, the more universal.”

AKA the more personal, private, shameful, or “this must ONLY be my problem” that something is, the more likely it is that a massive number of people across all ages, genders, and backgrounds experience that exact same feeling or thought.

And so, over-sharing on social media makes us all feel a bit more human. A bit more connected.

It gives us the sense of “Oh wow… I’m normal! I’m NOT the only one with my dirty little secret!”

(Side note: as you can probably tell, when I talk about over-sharing on social media I’m not talking about the volume of content posted by a particular individual, but the vulnerability and honesty behind the content. More blood, sweat, and tears, less “Here is a picture of my baby sleeping for the 18th time today.” Not that I’m judging those parents. I’ve never been a parent, but if I ever am a parent in the future I’m sure I’ll be talking about how proud I am of my kids super sized poops. Because my chubby-ass kid would totally have the biggest poops.)

Here are some examples of this kind of healing-the-masses “over-sharing” that have crossed my path on social media in a big way over the past couple of years.

1. Suicide, depression, and mental health issues

When Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014, I believe he gave one of his greatest, final gifts to the world. He encouraged a massive global conversation about depression and mental health.

I tried to kill myself when I was 14 years old. I was in a really dark place and I thought I was doing the world a favour by attempting to remove myself from it. I first told my story about this difficult time in my life on Facebook because I felt like contributing to the conversation that Robin Williams’ suicide had kicked up.

over-sharing on social media, suicide, suicide attempt, robin williams

I have no way to quantify this with any real data but I feel safe in assuming that at least hundreds of lives were saved by Robin Williams death.

The conversation was started. People across the globe felt more safe in talking to their loves ones about their mental and emotional states. Suicide prevention became more of a front-of-mind issue for people who weren’t talking about it before the event happened. A social media firestorm ensued, and lives were saved.

2. Male emotionality

I believe that women’s sexuality and men’s emotions are two of the most heavily shamed things in Western society.

Being that I am a male-bodied person who can only speak from my personal experience (although you know that if I were born a female I would be one of the most sex-positive sass-pots out there today), I feel good about having taken a small dent out of people’s perception around whether or not men are allowed to show their emotions (in general, or in public) through my so-called over-sharing on social media.

I’ve made at least half a dozen posts over the past few years that had a picture of my crying face on it.

over-sharing on social media

Or text-based status updates about how I was going through a rough time…

over-sharing on social media

In essence, I let it all hang out. I didn’t want to be a writer/relationship coach/thought leader who always seemed like they were immaculately well put together. Forget that noise! I wanted to show myself as I was. I wanted people to be able to see the humanness of me. And if that ended up negatively impacting my business then so be it.

over-sharing on social media

I would rather be on my deathbed with a million fewer dollars in my bank account with my integrity fully in tact, than richer and less happy with how many hearts I helped heal throughout the world. Because for me, there’s no price I could put on the feeling of being authentic with my emotions. And if my over-sharing on social media literally helps ONE person feel 1% more normal somewhere in the world, then it’s all worth it.

3. Enjoying sex

It kind of blows my mind that this even needs to be a section in this article, but it totally does.

Sex. One of the most natural and beautiful acts available to human beings is still one of the most widely taboo, hush-hush topics that’s kept under wraps in Western culture.

There is almost literally nothing more normal than sex. Everyone does it. Your parents did it… hopefully often. If you live in a major city, there’s probably someone within a 1-minute walking distance of you right now who is having sex.

And yet sex is something that we feel that we have to keep on the down low. We’re not supposed to talk about it publicly. It’s considered strange to ask a close friend if they’ve had any amazing sex lately within ear-shot of strangers. How is that the world we live in?!

People post bullshit articles like this that subtly induce sex-shaming across social media…

over-sharing on social media

Why would someone use their public voice to try and add more shame and suffering to peoples minds? What an absolute waste of time and energy.

We are always planting seeds in our lives. Do you want to spend your life planting seeds of shame, resistance, and fear? Or seeds of love, acceptance, and encouragement?

I regularly post things like this to try to take a chunk out of the abundant sex shaming that goes on.

over-sharing on social media

When people send me private messages, emails, or texts that say something to the effect of “That thing that you wrote and put out yesterday… it helped me feel more normal. It gave me permission to be myself/like what I like/feel like a worthwhile and loveable human being,” it melts my heart.

Alright, I’m starting to get into rant mode… so I’ll end this article with the following.

Over-sharing on social media progressively melts shame for humanity.

The act that tons of people over-share (in the minds of many) speaks to the truth that we all inherently want to feel seen, heard, and understood. We all want to connect. We all want to have those “OMG me too!” moments.

It makes us all feel a bit more normal.

Dedicated to your success,

Jordan

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