When does sharing become oversharing?

by smithstandard

Mental health struggles, thrush, sweaty vaginas, drunken stupors, reality television and toilet talk.

Over the years I have shared a lot on social media: photos, countless Instagram stories, blog posts detailing some incredibly personal experiences and more rants than I dare to admit.

Recently, I listened to a podcast which discussed where we draw the line in sharing and not sharing things on social media. And I felt a little bit conflicted about it.

I know that lately, I haven’t been sharing as much as I used to.

Whether that’s because my life isn’t as interesting as when I’m on holidays, if I’ve been more interested in writing my book, if I’m tiring of social media, if I’m struggling with what is over-sharing / what should be kept private / what is valuable or “okay” to share … or a combination of all of the above. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

The podcast in question raised a number of valuable points and got me thinking about certain questions in particular, such as would I still visit exotic locations if I couldn’t share the experiences on social media? Would I still do good deeds if I knew no one would ever find out about them?

I know my answer to be yes to both, but maybe my experiences would be slightly different. Maybe not.

In relation to doing good deeds, I don’t do those because I think I’m a God damn saint and want to assure you I’m a good person, but because:

  • a) doing good deeds selfishly make me feel good; and
  • b) because being kind and doing “good” things is an inherently good thing to do.

To help others and pay your way forward is just a part of being a decent human being (in my humble opinion). And I don’t mean you have to volunteer every single day of your life and be so generous people walk all over you, but by going out of your way regularly, lending a hand, paying a compliment, giving your time or a bit of money to those less fortunate – they’re all nice things to do.

When my partner and I volunteer in Cambodia, I feel conflicted about for various reasons.

I feel conflicted about my wealth and privilege in comparison to those we’re helping. I feel conflicted about sharing too much on social media, because people might think we’re just doing it to show that we’re do-gooders. Or that we’re doing it to boost our profiles or our egos.

Of course volunteering makes you feel a rollercoaster of emotions and filming the experience is no different. The main reason we film so much of our volunteer experience however, is because we want people to see what we see. To get a taste of the extreme differences in our lives and those people we’re helping. It’s because we want people to donate to a cause that is real and actually helps. We want people who have donated to see where their hard earned money is going.

And whilst it may seem like we saturate our social media channels during this time, even then, not everything is shared. We take the time to just be in the moment when we’re there too. We refrain from filming around kids too much as some villagers are a little weary of it and I am actually mindful that people we take photos of haven’t personally given permission for us to publish photos of them. When we’re in villages, we have to get permission to film from the village chief first and always double-check when we pull our phones out. Child exploitation is still a huge problem in Cambodia and they’re cracking down on foreigners more than ever. And I’m here for it. If they said to us we couldn’t film any of our volunteer experience, it would be disappointing, but I know we would still go.

So, where do we draw the line with sharing?

I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule for everybody. I think some people are open books and others are much more private, and that’s fine. Will I regret opening up about my life in another five, ten years? Will I wish I had kept some things to myself? Will I wish I had shared more? Will there be ramifications? Who knows.

What I do know that there is merit in pausing before you share. To have a think about what you’re doing and saying and why. Make sure that what you’re posting and sharing is yours to share and that you’re not going to upset anyone else by doing so. For example, writing a story that implicates real people in your life or posting photos of people who haven’t consented (and yes, this also raises the issue of whether we should post photos of our young family members who aren’t able to consent yet, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish for another time).

There is also huge benefit in not overanalysing everything and just getting information out. There can be such joy in posting so many wonderful memories and thoughts, it would be a shame to hold all those back because you’re worried what other people might think. Every situation is different and we need to treat them as they come and go.

Whilst I may not be sharing as much as I used to because of reasons mentioned earlier, I can promise you this:

I’ll still be sharing ramblings and thoughts on things despite the fact that I’m probably whining about whatever it is for the 100th time. I’ll still talk about mental health issues and respond to things that crop up in the press. I’ll talk about womens’ rights and being a woman, travel experiences and lazy days at home. I’ll talk about the joys and struggles with writing, random things that happen in my life and recommend whatever I think is GOOD every Friday on my Instagram. All the things that I think are important.

And I’ll keep asking people to donate to our volunteer cause in Cambodia, despite how conflicted I might feel, because that is another important thing to me.

Han x

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