Are all those very intimate details really necessary?
When the tap of a finger can deliver your most private, personal thoughts to your 752 closest friends on Facebook, it’s shockingly easy to overshare about everything from your health, to your sex life, to your children’s progress with potty training. “There can be a sense of safety behind a computer screen,” explains psychologist Andrea Bonior, PhD, author of The Friendship Fix. “When you’re posting something on Facebook, it feels less intimate than making eye contact with someone and sharing something in your own voice to their face. The computer creates a bit of a barrier.”
But not all cases of oversharing can be blamed on social media. Sometimes you can be so eager to make a connection that you wind up sharing TMI. Here, seven ways you might be crossing the line from chatty to cringe-worthy.
You Post Embarrassing Pictures and Stories of Your Kids on Facebook.
You may have gotten a good laugh when your toddler pulled on his penis in the bathtub and said, “Look, Mommy, I have a noodle!” but that toddler will be a tween before you know it, and will not be thrilled that you put that story out into the world. “If you have young children, ask yourself how you would have felt if your parents had displayed—to literally hundreds of people—a picture of you in a diaper, or made fun of why you were crying?” says Bonior. “You are eroding your kids' ability to be in charge of their own narrative.”
You Believe Nothing Is Too Minor to Talk or Post About.
While it may not feel embarrassing to share every mundane detail of your every day (“I was out of waffles, so I had to eat oatmeal this morning?” “OMG, that funny scratch on my ankle is still there!”), it starts to become white noise to your friends after a while, and they will quickly start to tune it out.
You Share Things Meant for a Few Close Supporters With Your Entire List of Friends.
If you’re going through a difficult time—trying to get pregnant, in the middle of a rough divorce, depressed after losing a job—you definitely want the support of your closest, most sympathetic friends. But posting intimate details on social media, where everyone including your high-school best friend’s 75-year-old dad will see it on their feed, may be taking things a step too far. “Instead, think about how to organize your social media followers so that only certain people can see certain things,” suggests Bonior. “If you have a group of friends who all ask about your problem and are rooting for you, post those updates just to them.”
You Share Private Stories at Work.
Sure, if you have a best friend in the next cubicle who loves to swap details about dating disasters over Jamba Juice, go ahead and share. But be careful that you don’t open up to just anyone, especially someone you are training or your boss. “At work you must err on the side of being conservative,” says Bonior. “If there is unequal power between you and the other person, you could be putting them in an awkward position.”
You Divulge Too Much, Too Soon.
It’s easy to go overboard when you’re trying to gain the confidence of a new friend. But telling that cool mom from your kids’ school about your UTI 30 seconds after you’ve been introduced at the bake sale can have her running the other way, fast.
You Share Even When Friends Are Giving You the Hint to Stop.
Your friends may love you, but when they stop liking or commenting on your posts, you get a lukewarm response, or they make excuses to get off the phone quickly, take it as a hint that your sharing has gone too far. Another major hint, says Bonior: “If you’re feeling like everyone knows way more about you than you know about them, it's definitely time to take stock.”