Can Oversharing Damage Your Mental Health?
When it seems like the entire world is living their lives on social media, the concept of ‘oversharing’ may seem like an unavoidable outcome. How can anyone not overshare when, for many people, the documentation of day-to-day life is a huge priority? Every day, ordinary people cater to an unseen audience of hundreds, or thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, and the temptation to turn to that echo chamber for a pick-me-up is very real. It’s addictive. You share important moments of your life with these faceless followers–of course they know you. Of course they’ll understand. So you find yourself having a bad day, and you turn to your socials to vent a little. Nothing wrong with that, right? You share a rant on Twitter, or film your tear-stained face over some melancholy music on Tik-Tok and voila! People flock to offer their support and well-wishes. With each new like or comment you can feel your spirits buoy.
But the issue is…the true problem was never addressed. The feelings of sadness or isolation are still there, just temporarily held at bay by invisible hands and red heart emojis. And after the initial high you get from the validation social media offers, you’re left, well, alone. And while you may have your echo chamber behind you, their support and well-wishes can’t carry you forever. Worse than that is when you don’t get the response you expected, and the number of people invested in your bad day is far fewer than you expected. Now what? Your day just became a little bit worse.
Now, let’s assume for a moment that, rather than turning to social media to share your sorrow, or frustration, or even joy, you picked up the phone and called a friend who actually listened to you and actually spoke back, allowing themselves to take on part of your emotional burden and help you to carry it. That’s a release. It’s an actual expression of those emotions in a healthy way, because you now have an outlet who actually cares about you. You don’t just feel better, you are better.
But in the short term, those droves of strangers “wishing you well, hun!” is quite tempting, isn’t it?
What is Oversharing?
Oversharing can refer to any number of things — too much posting, too many personal details, or even an excess of the mundane. I’m not proud to say that I myself have watched way too many of those “What I eat in a day” Tik-Toks, which are entertaining to some degree, but also utterly pointless. Who cares what a stranger eats in a day? But still they post, and still we watch.
This is the most innocent form of oversharing: it’s fun, it’s silly, and it hurts no one. But when deeper issues arise and you find that you can’t keep yourself away from your phone to scream it to the world, oversharing may become psychologically harmful.
The trouble with social media support in times of trouble is that it is so fleeting and so hollow. While there may be followers who are truly vested in your troubles and genuinely wish to send their support, ultimately likes and comments are just a band-aid that easily peels away until your next like or comment hits and a fresh wave of recognition washes over you. In the end, however, the only one carrying your emotional burden is you.
Find Your Balance
This is why it’s so important to strike a healthy balance between sharing your life and sharing your feelings. Did you just buy your favorite iced caramel macchiato at Starbucks only to have it tumble from your fingers and explode in a sticky-sweet whipped-creamy sploosh all over the front seat of your car? This is a GREAT problem for your followers to handle. It’s frustrating and you’re pissed off, but you know that by sharing it you’re going to elicit sympathy and maybe even a little bit of humor. This too shall pass and no harm done (except to your upholstery and caffeine addiction). But if you find yourself in a truly problematic situation, where deeper issues are present and you are really feeling genuine pain…hold off on that post. Allow yourself to cry without snapping a selfie. Let the problem sit with you and do some outreach first. Call a friend, call your mom, call your therapist, call anyone who can offer you real support. As cinematic as a tear-stained face may be, there is a time to keep it to yourself and work on dealing with the root of the problem in a healthy way. Your followers can wait, and you owe it to yourself to hold onto your privacy.
Where to Find Help
Even if it feels like you are utterly alone, there is help out there and real people who are ready to listen. Are you an influencer who is looking for help or support? FanCentro’s Telegram group is a great tool for reaching other adult performers who may be facing similar struggles. If you’re a sex worker who is feeling isolated or suffering from depression, Pineapple Support is another wonderful resource for help.