Authenticity vs. Oversharing

So many ways to share on social media.

So many ways to share on social media.

We exist in a time where oversharing is the hot thing to do. Social media, the Internet as a whole, reality television. There are a billion opportunities to glimpse everyone’s every thought or hourly selfie. It makes me uncomfortable. Not because I’m against some good old fashioned sharing, but I think this oversharing is often cloaked as authenticity.

I’d love to see your new haircut, but only once. It looked the same at 11:00am as it now does at 6:00pm. I’m stoked you had a good month at work, but I don’t need to know how much you made. I’m sorry someone mistreated you, but if you have a grievance, please speak with them directly like a grownup. And I’d love to see photos of your new baby, just not every single day. Actually, I take that one back. I would love to see photos of your babies and pets every single day. But I don’t need to know anything about their bodily functions, unless it’s going to save their lives.

All this has me contemplating how much of myself to reveal. Whether online. With my clients. Or friends and family.

If I selfie it’s usually accidental.

If I selfie it’s usually accidental.

I like to view myself as an open book. I don’t harbor any deep, dark secrets. At times I find this a bit regretful wondering, have I really lived if I don’t have some sort of shameful secret? Ultimately, I’ve resolved this with, you can live without regrets, it’s okay.

At the same time I don’t want everyone to know everything about me. No one really needs to know I prefer to brush my teeth anywhere other than the bathroom (Welp, there goes that secret!). Or what I really think about some people. Or the intimacies of my love life.

This balance between openly sharing and keeping things to myself can be tricky. No shock here, but my day (and sometimes evening/night) job is being a therapist. In therapy school, there are still remnants of this old fashioned notion of the therapist being a blank slate and shouldn’t reveal any information about themselves to their clients.

I don’t buy into that. I think in order to develop a more authentic, trusting, and helpful relationship, I have to reveal some things about myself. Of course, in therapy sessions, I don’t reveal things at random that have nothing to do with my client’s therapy. There are no selfies shown or bodily functions discussed. There has to be some therapeutic value to my client.

But outside of the therapy room, for instance on this blog, the lines are more blurred. My current and potential clients could read this at any time. And learn far more about me than in our therapy sessions. Yet, I just can’t bring myself to write another self-help, therapy, lifestyle, coaching, whatever you want to call it blog full of the same ol’ “10 Ways to Create Lasting Happiness” or “5 Reasons Anxiety is Good For You.” I tried that. I hated that. Other people hated it.

That didn’t feel authentic either. Seriously, how many different “10 Ways to Create Lasting Happiness” articles can one person actually read? So I decided to use my own personal experiences as opportunities for others to learn from. Which I struggle with at times because of the above reasons.

Social media art

Social media art

I also want to be mindful of what I share because my personal life involves others. People that I really care about. People who haven’t necessarily given me their permission to share their personal lives. I’ve had stories I’ve wanted to share, but since they involve others’ private lives, I’ve held back. I could always seek permission and maybe I will in the future, but so far, I’ve chosen to tell those stories in a different way. With more emphasis on my own internal experience, rather than identifying details of the situation itself.

I say all this because like much of life, I don’t have clear cut answers to what and how much to share or how to even share it. Share too little and you can’t connect with others. Share too much and you can’t connect with others. I see these extremes all of the time and people really struggle to find that sweet spot. Allowing themselves to be vulnerable enough, while also recognizing that too much too soon destroys trust.

We exist in a time when people really seem to be lacking human connection so I think contemplation of this balance is critical. Again, I have no concrete answers, but I do have a suggestion that will help you find your own answers. Before you post anything, ask yourself, “What is my purpose in posting this and is that in line with who I truly am and what’s truly important to me?”

To post or not post, that is the question!