Ever since I’ve started this blog, people have contacted me, often secretly by direct message, to tell me how ‘brave’ I am for sharing such personal information in public.
I’m not brave, I’m a Sharer. I tell people stuff. Not stuff that is top-secret business stuff, but all the other stuff.
That’s partly why my friends were encouraging me to write this blog – I was forever regaling them in the pub with my stories of fortysomething dating or my theories on why women shove each other in clubs. And those stories and theories were always connected to a personal experience that I didn’t mind telling people about. Why the hell not? It gives the story more power and the theory more credence.
I think people are either Sharers or they’re not, and I tend to prefer the former. Social media has given my sharing a whole new level of exposure. No longer confined to the pub, I can share my thoughts and feelings, stories and theories, with a whole bunch of people who share too, although maybe not quite as much as me.
Within my group of Facebook friends there are those that share, and those that lurk. I’m connected to the Sharers on almost every form of social-media and we interact on every one. The Lurkers maintain that they’re ‘just not that bothered’ about looking at Facebook or Twitter but they’re there.
And boy, are they taking in everything you post.
They usually come up to me at parties and mutter darkly into my ear, “I’ve seen your blog…” like it’s a dirty secret.
“OH YEAH?” I shout, “DO YOU LIKE IT??” Then watch them flinch because I’ve outed their secret lurky behaviour in public.
You see to the Lurkers, I am giving away my very core of power in nuggets of information about myself. This sort of person thinks that others will take those nuggets and somehow use them against me. They guard their own information fiercely, thinking that the moment they let their guard down, the vultures will move in and steal their nuggety strength.
In my experience, people take the nuggets you are most fiercely guarding and use THOSE to bring you down. The minute you put everything out there, they’ve got nothing to take from you. You spoil their game. And boy do I love spoiling that sort of game.
So here’s what I’m doing. I’m laying all my nuggets out there, where they can be picked up by other people, examined and put back. Like exhibits in a case in a museum, most people will move on by without even stopping to read the descriptions. Some will stop and admire one or two or more of the nuggets, ask questions about where they came from, tell you they don’t like what they see, or marvel at what you’ve laid out and the rarity of the pieces.
And of course, the Lurkers will wait for everyone else to leave the room and secretly roll the nuggets around in their hands before tiptoeing out.
Maybe I’m taking the museum metaphor too far, but you get my drift.
My parents’ generation kept everything a secret. Growing up, I had to learn what you could say and what you couldn’t say to adults, and like many families, we even kept secrets from ourselves, refusing to say out loud those things that might rock an otherwise stable world. Maybe that’s why I enjoy saying things out loud now – the relief of getting the information out of my brain, and into the world.
I’m the same at work. People that have worked for and with me will know that I Say Things Out Loud and it’s become somewhat of a trademark. I call it the Honesty Policy, with its ‘Nowhere to Hide’ remit. I like information out there, in the open, where everyone can see it and I like to communicate it. It has really good results, once everyone gets used to it.
There is always a period of discomfort where the Lurkers are forced out into the open and made to discuss information with a team. Others take to it instantly, thankfully, or find themselves enjoying the openness and the calm it creates. I don’t do game-playing or politics – straightforward, direct, rational, open and honest are my key words.
So really, I’ve started to direct the Honesty Policy to my personal life, because for years, I wasn’t honest with myself or with other people about my thoughts or feelings. I kept them secret and they ate away at me. I’d blurt them out occasionally and then pack them away for another few years.
I’m being more honest with myself now, but I’m still not at the stage where I can go up to someone and say, “I really need to speak to you about that thing that you did because it upset me.” For me, that is the worst-ever scenario and I admire people who can do it enormously.
I genuinely think that I watch The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea because both series consist entirely of people doing just that, continually taking each other to one side to ‘clear the air’. I think by watching it, I’m seeing if I could handle the confrontation. Nope – probably not. I’d just rehearse with a friend in the pub and then not actually do it.
Do other people actually do this stuff in real life? I’m not so sure. Perhaps that’s why both series are both so successful – they live out our Fantasy Confrontation Lives for us.
A few people have said to me that they don’t share because they think people wouldn’t be interested in the information. Well unless it says something about them, they won’t be. People are fascinated by personal information and opinions and I’ve had nearly 8,000 views so far that prove it.
It has been scary, posting some of what I’ve posted, and I’ve had moments in the middle of the night where I’ve inwardly screamed, “You told everyone that thing!!! THAT THING!!!” But then the next morning, I’ll invariably get a message from someone saying that they loved ‘that thing’ and want to read more.
So I carry on.
Because I can.
7 thoughts on “Share and Share a ‘Like’”
Thanks for this; it’s something I’ve grappled with over the years: I don’t want to share too much, for a variety of reasons, but sometimes I worry I’m sharing too little, especially when I disagree but don’t really want to get into a disagreement. Mulling over some past incidents, I see the wisdom in what you’re saying, though.
One thing I wrestle with, though, with sharing too much, is having to hear a bunch of uneducated, unthoughtful replies. I’ve learned that People Don’t Think Before They Speak, and am still learning to accept that. They say stupid things, uninformed things, hurtful things, without even realizing it. I suspect the answer is to ignore those things, to not pay them any heed, but I really struggle with that, so if you’ve any other suggestions, I’d appreciate if you’d share them. 🙂
More broadly, I’ve been enjoying your blog; it’s given me a lot of food for thought. Thanks for sharing!
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What lovely feedback! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’ve been lucky enough to have thought-through educated replies so far. And only one troll, who thinks this sort of stuff should be confined to a personal diary. I just ignore the rubbish, but there’s not that much of it, yet. I do get a lot of direct messages because people don’t want to say things in public but appreciate that I do.
That’s great to hear – though I should have been more clear. I meant in face to face interactions, too. Since you have more experience of regaling friends in pubs, etc with these stories, I was wondering how you’d dealt with the inevitable thoughtless comments there? Or have you just been far luckier at not having them than I have been?
(Perhaps the answer is for me to work on my initial communicating to avoid the listener’s/reader’s need to fill in the gaps! D’oh!)
Again, I’m lucky enough to have nice friends. It’s strangers that say things like, “but having a child is normal” and (when commiserating with me over the death of my parents), “Yeah I remember when my cat died…” I store them up for future pub conversations and blog posts…
Oh yes. Yes to all of it. Most of my lurkers are harmless and don’t have much to say (loads of them surfaced to like my engagement status two weeks ago!) but until recently I had one particularly poisonous Facebook lurker. She pushed me way past my limit of tolerance by mocking my interests etc. and I summarily dealt with her by blocking her on Facebook and I now blank her in RL. It takes a lot to push me that far but oh boy! She really got to me.
That’s weird, I’ve just written a blog post about Toxic People – she sounds like one of them. Will probably post it this week. Of course, the problem is hers… Huge insecurity.
THAT THING! Yes, funnily enough, I’m grappling with some of those things at the moment. There are drafts in the WordPress folder but they still need tweaking. As does my own personal Jiminy Cricket. I’m less worried about what comments may be posted and more worried about the old “what if someone I actually know reads this?” which is bloody crazy, considering I normally don’t give a toss what others think. I think I’m having a split personality crisis 😐
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