Monday, 1 December 2014

The issue of over-sharing.

 I feel the need to inform you of a few things about me. For instance, I could talk for hours about every contestant on Strictly. I have an unhealthy attachment to my cat. When I say ‘the other day’, I could be referring to any time between the day before yesterday and nineteen years ago when my memories properly begin. Another thing you should probably know upfront before you read on, is that I over-share.
Although, what even is that: over-sharing? It’s a term I’ve only encountered in the past couple of years…my understanding is it simply means ‘going too far’ or ‘revealing a bit much’… ‘TMI, too much info, honey.”
The ever-reliable Urban Dictionary claims that over-sharing is:
‘Providing more personal information than is absolutely necessary. Typically done when two or more people are conversing and details of one’s sexual life creep into the discussion – or overly gross and disgusting details are included.’
A friend of mine says: ‘in social media terms, [oversharing is] worrying about whether someone is okay because they haven’t uploaded anything for at least 12 hours’…
My parents would most likely say ‘anything you have to say about boys’. Fair play to them.
Now I know for a fact that I over-share when I’m drunk (‘See that guy onstage, on guitar at the back? Yeah, he’s pretty blessed with equipment if you know what I mean, but a little clueless as to how to use it…’; ‘I haven’t been this wasted since that time when I pulled off my top and puked all over my friend’s shoes!’). I’ve had some of the best conversations that I hardly remember in the toilets at Spoons with my best girl friends – I’ve even made new friends with the girls in the next cubicle who have overheard our over-sharing and can relate to our woes about unruly body hair and wild desires for (but lack of funds for) extravagant underwear sets…
But I’m only realising recently that I’m almost as bad – maybe not as blunt or graphic, thankfully, but still bad – when sober. I’ve spoken with friends over coffee about my habit of returning texts while on the toilet; I once spent ten minutes answering questions about a urinary catheter I had put in during an operation; I bragged like mad when I discovered I was actually three cup sizes larger than I’d previously thought when three beautiful ladies got me topless and measured me in Boux Avenue. The other day, an old friend and I had an in-depth discussion about the advantages of using lube, in broad daylight, in a clothes shop.
When it comes to the internet, it’s all too easy to over-share; bloggers do it, vloggers do it, even the frank forum freaks do it…it’s a slippery slope. I’m a major culprit when it comes to this. I’m even doing it now.
If you’re ever poised with a finger over the mouse, ready to click on ‘post’ or ‘update’ or ‘SHARE’… Think twice. Follow my good friend’s advice: ‘anything you wouldn’t share with distant friends/acquaintances, in person, is probably too much information to share online ‘.
I think there are some unspoken ground rules when it comes to sharing anecdotes and info. For instance, you can tell your mum when you go to the doctors’ for a contraceptive pill prescription, but you can’t run straight out of your bedroom in nothing but your boyfriend’s shirt and inform her that you’ve made use of it for the first time. You can giggle away when a friend goes into a little too much detail about an ex to the entire room at a party, but you must never repeat it on a separate later occasion without permission. And when you and your friends sense that enough has been shared, that you’ve exhausted the topic, you brush it off and move swiftly on to something much more mundane.
There are certain friends to whom you tell everything – you entrust your deepest darkest secrets unto them. Some friends know what personal things you’re thinking or what nightmare private moments you’re recalling just by you giving them a certain look. And that’s fine. I personally feel I’d be at a complete dead loss without my nearest and dearest – who would I talk to about my most awkward fumbling incidents in the bedroom and preferred feminine hygiene products? Who would give me advice on how to move on from my ill-advised one night stands? And who would swear on their siblings’ lives not to repeat any information I send their way when I’m in an inebriated state…?
Then there are certain friends you’d never share anything rated above a PG with. Friends who have lived next door to you your whole life, who you grew up with, who you’re crazy-close with and yet for some reason you’ve never swapped dirty details with. One of my old school friends asked me what my ‘magic number’ was a few Christmases ago (when it was quite a bit lower, oops) and I blushed instantly and refused to tell her. Why? I suppose I’m a selective over-sharer.
Then again, over-sharing is massively therapeutic. Sometimes it helps to hear someone else feels the same way, has the same problems, fights the same battles, fancies the same Z-list celebrities. A little over-sharing, whether over a cup of coffee or a pitcher of Woo Woo, is sometimes the best thing to do. Just maybe don’t announce anything over international airwaves, or in an online auditorium…just a little advice, right there.

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