Why People Overshare Online

Status Update on Facebook

We all have the friends on Facebook or Twitter who overshare the details of their lives with the rest of the internet. They’re the type of people who consistently update statuses and feel the need to share every detail of their lives — from what they last ate for lunch to their opinion of their favorite TV show. Although it’s certainly their right, what makes it so easy to overshare on social media platforms?

Author and social scientist, Sherry Turkle, believes after one shares feelings or thoughts in a public space, the brain’s neurochemical reward system is automatically triggered. This action, in addition to the idea that our private lives are constantly being infiltrated by reality TV and social media, adds to an innate urge to share.

In the most recent paper by Russell W. Belk titled “Extended Self in a Digital World,” he argues that people’s relationships with social media sites are ultimately allowing us to create a more complicated concept of who we believe we are as individuals. With the addition of various platforms that let us be creative through status updates, highly-edited pictures and funny videos, Belk says that humans are able to create a unique, desired identity in a space that makes us feel ‘invisible.’ Consequently, when individuals believe no one is listening or watching behind a screen, they gain more confidence to divulge personal details about their lives that wouldn’t typically be shared in normal day to day life.

Overall, it’s clear that the line between private and public is quickly disappearing with each status, tweet and Instagrammed photo. People want to be interesting, popular and cool. They want to be heard and respected — and will often give up such self-respect to feel valued by their peers. But how far is too far? And how much worse will it get as our world continues to highlight reality stardom and materialistic values?

Tell us: How much do you share via social media? 

— Samantha

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