You may believe that silence is golden, but not when it comes to communication between marrieds or partners. Then, you’re of the confessional crowd.
You may believe that the more you share with your children about why you want what you want in their regard – your motivation behind a request – you’re more apt to achieve your goal.
Likewise, if you’re dating.
But do you really need to spill stories of your health, past lovers, your defunct marriage, your dreams… all on the first two dates? Are you really convinced it’s better to get “deal breakers” on the table ASAP?
Have you considered how it feels to be on the receiving end of these disclosures?
TMI TMI TMI
We have grown inured to appropriateness or practicalities around sharing. “Over sharing” in contemporary culture extends from dating to parenting to our jobs… and to strangers. Aren’t we exhausted from the onslaught? Aren’t we talking too much, too long, too constantly – if not aloud, then in social media?
Have we lost all sense of proportion?
I love my social media pals and the ongoing engagement. However, I have repeated my refrain many a time: When it comes to airing your dirty laundry, especially on the Internet, just say no.
Apparently, I’ll be singing this tune for awhile.
Naturally, we each operate according to our own standards of what to share and how much. Motivations differ. Reasons may be excellent. But I can’t help but think that many simply don’t think… and lump all communications into an overflowing bucket or presumed “no harm, no foul.”
Dirty Laundry on the Internet. Wait. ALL My Laundry?
So maybe this is more than just the smelly socks, the soiled sweats, and the stained sweaters. Maybe it’s the clean towels as well, the work shirts in the ironing pile, and the cute cut-offs ready to stow in the dresser drawer.
Maybe we’re sharing so much of everything that we forget what’s clean and what’s dirty. It’s all “just stuff,” so why not?
In the past few weeks, scanning the Facebook pages of a few “friends,” I encountered information I consider extremely personal relative to relationships, children, and health. I quickly closed the pages. What surprised me was how often I had to do so.
What we share (and how much) is an individual decision, but when we share on public platforms, are we fully aware that strangers are glancing at intimate details about our lives – or for that matter, our children’s lives?
Are these conscious choices or non-choices? Do we forget to use privacy and security controls when they’re available? Do some of us need the public nature of this degree of sharing more than others? Are we ascribing our effusive declarations (online or in person) to spontaneity, to transparency, to expediency? Are we right to do so?
What ever happened to building trust (in relationships), to a dash of mystery (in dating), to keeping mum on issues that involve others’ private business? When did we all become so emotionally needy?
The Dangers of Oversharing on the Internet
Have I ever said things I wish I could take back?
Have I ever done so in writing?
Does this remind to think before I share – in order to prevent oversharing if possible – at least, oversharing by my own standards?
Do I hope my kids haven’t overshared during high school or college? Of course. And I would wish that’s the case for all our kids.
It’s easy to misinterpret, easy to offend, easy to leave out critical qualifying information, and potentially detrimental to relationships that are both personal and professional. Just because we can email, text, tweet, update, and share on a growing number of platforms doesn’t mean we should.
Discretion is the Better Part of Valor
I recall learning the idiom, “discretion is the better part of valor,” many years ago. Simply stated, this expression reminds us that exercising a bit of care may help us avoid more problematic situations that can occur after, requiring bravery. It’s similar to “think before you speak” as you learn that if you don’t, your mouth may get you into trouble.
Wouldn’t a modicum of discretion be wise as concerns every opportunity for a personal communiqué, the most current thought, or a deluge of data, details, and dirt?
Care for a few examples? I’ve always been a fan of the “explain why” approach in business as well as parenting – within reason. I like information; as a professional, when I understand the big picture, I’m more efficient and effective.
As a parent, if I explain my motivation when I ask my kids to do something, they’re more likely to follow my lead, as they perceive that my request isn’t arbitrary.
However, elaborating with kids may be useful in measured doses when they’re 10 years old (or 20), but utterly pointless at the age of 3 or for that matter, 13.
When Less (Communication) is More (Effective)
The New York Times offers this little item which has me nodding my head in appreciation. Although written in the context of marketing food items to children, and parents taking up the cause when it comes to healthy eating, “In Pitching Veggies to Kids, Less is More” explains:
… new research shows why parents — and food marketers — might be doing themselves no favors. The problem is the pitch: It is too aggressive, even at its most well-meaning and heartfelt… Don’t tell them it’s healthy or it will make them smart or strong. Telling them it’s yummy is O.K., but even that message doesn’t seem to help the cause.
Does that mean Mom and Dad are better off with “just do as I say?”
Not necessarily. Providing limited choices is recommended, and when faced with an obstinate child, here’s my take (as a veteran in the field): There’s no point in diluting the message with information that is irrelevant to kids.
A few options? Sure. But otherwise, it’s “eat or be hungry.”
This is a basic rule in effective communication: Consider your audience.
TMI (or CYA?)… Healthcare
The New York Times provides another example of TMI in “The TMI Pregnancy“as Patricia Volk offers a disturbing albeit amusing account of her daughter-in-law’s fretful nine months carrying her first child.
Noting how an initial visit at which the mother-to-be undergoes three tests that then beget a subsequent set… and the story only “blossoms” from there… Ms. Volk writes:
… Prenatal science has helped a lot people and people-to-be. But just because a patient can know something, must she? There’s so much information available now. Pregnancy is treated like a nine-month illness cured by childbirth… What is one of the most joyous times of life has turned into something ominous and fraught, loaded with the potential to go wrong.
Ah yes. Shades of Dr. Aaron Carroll again, reminding us that we are medicalizing normalcy, and causing a crazy amount of worry in the process.
Does this mean we should halt the steady stream of new tests, new studies, new data? That we shouldn’t avail ourselves of what medical science can offer?
Hardly. But somewhere in this bombardment of words on all fronts (and our own complicit participation), we must seek a happy medium, a point of moderation, a polite but firm “no” to those who would invade our mental space with fear, crowd out our common sense, and convince us that we must go with the flow of Too Much Information… or else.
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