Oversharing is Caring
The internet is a petri-dish of oversharing. It’s the perfect place to cultivate an environment of saying whatever, whenever, without immediate consequence. A lot of people find this unsettling, and at times it can be. People are more likely to overstep boundaries and generally be assholes. But there’s another side to it that I find it quite beautiful - the same desire to connect with people that motivates every embarrassing joke or sad-tweet. In fact, I think this desire, this tendency to overshare, lies at the very core of what it means to be human.
I, for one, am a chronic oversharer. I have been since the internet was introduced to me. My first facebook status was probably song lyrics not-so-secretly addressed to my crush, or some shady comment about how “certain people” should LEARN HOW TO KEEP A SECRET, SARAH.
Of course nowadays my moments of oversharing are hopefully less embarrassing, and less prone to making specific people feel attacked (or at least I try). Usually, the subject of my oversharing is myself, taking the form of self-deprecating tweets or rhetorical pieces of writing like this one. Anyone who follows me on any form of social media can attest to my desire to tell everyone everything I’m thinking and feeling at all times. Those who know me in real life are even more familiar.
I don’t necessarily love this about myself. It’s gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion, when I forget my twitter audience is potentially the world, or when I accidentally show my hand too readily when trying to navigate friendships and relationships. It also feeds my anxiety in a big way, telling me that no one gives a shit about what I have to say, and they hate me for saying it. There’s a reason people withhold information about themselves in social settings like the internet. But alternatively, the reason why I don’t is more important to me than the fear of judgement.
I think shameless oversharing is directly tied to being an artist. So many beautiful artworks are so deeply personal that we forget behind every love song, every stand-up set, every memoir, there’s a real human being bearing their souls for the sake of connecting to an audience. The people they sing and write about are real people too, people who might hear their song or read their work. It’s a giant risk, and one that they consistently make for the same reason we read their poems and love their music - to connect.
I mean, look at Beyonce’s “Lemonade”. If that’s not the perfect example of powerful, courageous, meaningful oversharing, I don’t know what is.
The most beautiful art is beautiful because it fulfills this universal craving for connection. Art, and in turn, life, is about seeing yourself and being seen. There is beauty in recognition of your whole being, particularly the parts that you feel alone in.
But oversharing reaches beyond the artistic realm - that craving for recognition is part of being human. I think the reason I’m constantly oversharing is because I value genuine human connection over privacy. I would readily tell any secret of mine if it meant someone else relating, if it opened the pathway for a moment of universal catharsis - a sort of group hug, a relieved sigh of “thank god I’m not the only one.”.
And, I think this applies to the way we see other people as well, especially online. The best tweets aren’t necessarily the funniest ones, but the funny, shameless ones, that you can totally relate to but never would’ve said first. To be acknowledged as valid, even in your most dark and embarrassing moments, is incredibly important to our existence as people.
Oversharing is often the catalyst for this acknowledgement. It’s the same way that our most meaningful conversations with friends often take place within the context of “oh my god, you do/think/feel that too??” It’s that first time someone told you they masturbated and discovering you weren’t a disgusting freak. It’s finding solace in togetherness, for better or for worse. It’s discovering that you aren’t strange or crazy or alone.
I’m not saying that you should be sharing your deepest darkest secrets all the time, nor am I saying that my dumb tweets and silly instagram captions are high art. But what I am saying is that there is an importance, a necessity even, in oversharing. In art, in life, in relationships. It’s really risky, and it’s really scary, but it is valuable. We must be willing to lay ourselves bare for the sake of deeper connection, as artists, and lovers, and friends, and humans.