There’s a growing trend that sees me cringing sporadically as I scroll through my social media feeds. A culture of oversharing. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what motivates parenting bloggers to write this stuff, not to mention the readers that seems to adore it. We are at an interesting place in the parenting blogging world. A place where nothing is sacred.
The Highlight Reel.
There was a time when parenting bloggers only presented a curated highlight reel of their lives and families for public consumption. Perfect children, homemade bunting and mess-free craft in the sunshine, all shown through a filtered Instagram lens.
Pretty picture were accompanied by flowery words describing fairy-tale lives. Inspiring? Sure, for some. For many, though, blogs like that have become less and less relatable and relevant. In response, there’s been a shift in the blogosphere. Writers have been getting real and sharing the lows as well as the highs. They’re gaining traction as more and more readers look for stories and articles that they can actually relate to.
There’s nothing I love better than good, honest writing. Pour your heart out and I will love you for it. Fire up about whatever stirs your passions and I’ll be behind you, cheering you along. Say the hard stuff that needs saying and I’ll respect your courage, even if I don’t necessarily agree. Tell me about your pain and I will cry with you. Share your birth story, your struggles or how you got past something difficult. I love the real stuff; the guts and glory of life and struggle and joy and everything in between. To me, sharing passion like that isn’t oversharing.
The oversharing I have in mind is more of a reality TV version of parenting blogging. It’s sharing information, pictures and posts that add no real value to anyone beyond a strange thrill at reading or seeing something we know is really none of our business.
We aren’t learning from it, it’s not showing us something new and it’s not the kind of entertainment that engages our minds.
Remember when “reality TV” first became a thing? A bunch of people in a house. Cameras in every room. The people in the house knew, intellectually, that there were cameras in every room. However, they had no idea how much could be seen or how it would be edited and what people would and wouldn’t see. As soon as the broadcasts started, we were hooked; mindlessly fixated on watching these people eat, talk, sleep and interact. They showered and exercised and got drunk and we just watched as producers set them against each other for our amusement.
That formula tapped into the latent voyeur in all of us. And that small thrill of being the proverbial fly on the wall in someone else’s life? It’s still there. I know it’s still there because I’m watching people who have blogs, public Facebook pages and Instagram accounts whose followings are exploding in direct proportion to the level of intimate detail they are willing to share.
The Culture of Oversharing.
Want to give your readers explicit details of your last sexual encounter? How about detailing your current and ongoing argument with a family member? Or maybe you’d prefer to share a picture of yourself on the toilet? Go for it- but that’s not the stuff I want to see and read. Judging from the viral success of posts like this, I am well aware that I’m in the minority here.
I really feel like we are collectively embracing a culture of oversharing. We’ve rebelled hard against the Pinterest-perfect parenting and the curated life viewed through an Instagram filter. Instead, we’ve jumped headlong into the other extreme. We’ve forgotten where the line is. Bloggers are avidly sharing snapshots, written and visual, of moments that are usually private. It’s not for me to police what other people share, I just wonder if, in this culture of oversharing, anyone is actually stopping to think about the potential impact of putting such intimacies online.
Would I be okay with potential employers finding pictures of me in the bathroom? Erm, no. I’m not sure a toilet picture should effect my chances of getting a dream job but I also can’t see any real reason to risk it. Would I want my children to idly google my name and come up with a lengthy exposé of the last time I bonked their dad? Not particularly. It’s not the worst thing I could write about and have them stumble on, but it might make them embarrassed or uncomfortable to see it. Especially if it went viral and attracted media attention.
What Happens On the Internet Stays on the Internet.
It worries me that some bloggers are willing to trade their intimate moments in exchange for likes and shares online. I write online; I know those likes and shares mean something to people like me. It’s a form of validation. People are interested in what we have to say and the hours we spend on our craft are worthwhile if the end result is being appreciated. I get it. The thing is, likes and shares aren’t a currency we can exchange when we want our privacy back.
Once it’s posted online, there’s no way to really take it back.
#IBOT @ Kylie Purtell.