Sometimes it only takes a word: sometimes a full picture’s worth is not enough. The impact of what we choose to share does not merely affect those for whom we share – and we always write for somebody. It’s never simply the crowd; every utterance has a direct target. There has been a little bit of noise recently on the subject of oversharing. Clare Maxwell, for example, shared this on sharing. I particularly like the line she seeks which hovers between honesty and self-indulgence. This particular line is one which concerns the reader – self-indulgence rarely makes for good reading, while honesty may be painful, but it’s invariably compelling. The self-indulgent writer tells themselves what they want to hear, while the honest writer tells their audience, or audient, what they need to hear. It’s no wonder that honesty wins over self-indulgence.
But the other side of the debate concerns the living of one’s life in full view of the non-paying public. In blogging relentlessly on personal issues, one takes the place of the celebrity gossip magazine. Warhol was wrong. We won’t be famous for fifteen minutes, but for fifteen pages. For fifteen hundred hits. For handsful of ‘like’ clicks. In speaking to our intended target, we automatically reveal information such as, to paraphrase one writer, how we stayed in bed and didn’t wash for a month after ‘X’ – and this is perhaps not the sort of information we ought to allow to be accessed by a potential employer.
I have often wondered how much influence the fact that my PD is not only there, but talked about online, affects my job prospects. After all, who’s going to employ someone with a degenerative condition? They’ll be pensioned off one day at vast expense, and you know it. There are other ways of ticking that box. I know every time I apply for a job (well, ok, applied) my name plus institution is searched for, and brings the searcher to my blog. And here they learn all manner of non-secrets. And they’re welcome to them.
You know, when it comes to oversharing, these people are quite simply not my audience.
More to the point, it’s getting hard to find people without a footprint in social media. No-one really gives a toss if you were miserable one day and ate so much cake you were sick … no-one other than those whose lives you already touch, in however tiny a way.
Oversharing is a question of judgement. And sometimes it’s necessary to let some things out into the aether in return for getting your point across. That’s not oversharing, that’s merely doing you job as a writer.
I lay in the bath the other day while a friend read one of my short stories to me, sight unseen. You know what? It rocked. I’m going to put up a recording of her reading. Soon.
The bath is incidental, but important. Because that’s where I’m most likely to listen to audiobooks. Hearing my story was a new experience for me. It made it work in a way I hadn’t expected. It may sound self-indulgent … but that’s because it was. Sometimes you simply need to indulge: sometimes, you simply need to tell it how it is, no matter how odd that may feel.
Why? Because in cyberspace, no-one can hear you shout at the screen unless your camera’s active at the time. Then, well, then you really are oversharing.