Did I Say Too Much? An Oversharer's Opinion (that you didn't ask for)
Today is a day of tentative titles and being unsure of what I want to share. I’ve been reading a lot lately, watching TED talks, and just generally trying to feed my brain. I got about 4 hours deep into the TED talks when I took a minute to reflect on the types of titles I was drawn to clicking on. I liked the talks where the speaker shares a personal anecdote that feels like they’re revealing a secret to the room. I like watching videos where I feel like I’m getting insight into something that is taboo to talk about over a pint with a friend. I like reading books where I feel like the author has written a letter to an old friend and is spilling the tea about a moment in their life that they felt they couldn’t share otherwise. In other words, I liked the people that I thought were sharing just a little too much. But are they really sharing that much at all?
Since I’ve been trying to break into the attention economy world of content creation, the general advice is to be authentic and share a personal story and a part of yourself that would otherwise be private because that’s how you capture the most attention and hold it for a long time. Other things I’ve heard involve sharing everything you can, almost as a way to prove you’re a real person who struggles and is relatable. People love an underdog story and if you can paint yourself in a way that means you’ll triumph at the end, then you’ll keep them around. But where is the line? How much do I need to share in order to prove I’m real? Is this the human version of a captcha? The honest answer is that I have absolutely no idea where the line is or how much is too much or even too little. I do, however, think that the stories that I love listening to so dearly, are really just that - stories.
Over this past year and a half, I’ve been through a lot of shit, and originally I thought I could “make the most of it” (read: build an audience) by sharing my stories and leaning into this idea that I’m an underdog that has triumphed in the face of adversity. However, I don’t really feel like an underdog at all. I just feel like a regular dog that has a couple of extra hurdles to jump over. I consume so much content on a daily basis that seemed to garner the eyeballs and support of so many people, by sharing the deepest, darkest secrets of their lives that I thought the secret to getting to that sort of level was to share everything, no holds barred. As I began to share a few things here and there, I started to feel like maybe I was saying too much. Maybe I was being too open and then the anxiety began to set in and a whole new world opened up to me. The world of did I say too much? In most cases, I think I have - but only when provoked.
For the most part, I operate on a “I’ll tell you, if you ask” policy. I’m happy to share stories and be open about anything and everything, but you have to bring it up or it has to naturally come up in conversation. The reason I was starting to feel anxious is because it didn’t feel like the stories I was sharing were coming up in a natural way. It doesn’t really feel natural to me to “overshare” in this way, because there is no provocation for me to begin opening up in the first place. Maybe a lot of content creators out there think that it’s their job to be the thing that provokes people to feel something in the first place, but the more content I consume, the more I realise I’m more of a reactionary “oversharer”.
My last little thought on oversharing is that I don’t really think it’s oversharing at all. People are ultimately in control of their own narratives and can embellish or erase as much or as little as they like from their stories - and they do. The TED talks I watched yesterday all give the illusion of oversharing because the speaker takes a moment from their life and embellishes it to the point where it looks like we’re getting the whole picture. The YouTubers that I watch are embellishing their lives with music and editing and basic storytelling to make it feel like we’re seeing their whole lives and not just 20 minutes of a single day. And I’m embellishing right now on a single thought I had this morning.
What we perceive as oversharing is just really good storytelling.
Until next time,