Oversharing is not a new issue; people have been sharing intimate details on family, romantic relationships and past traumas in casual conversations long before the arrival of social media. But what does oversharing mean for us as Christians, is it good or healthy to share this much of our lives?
What does it mean to overshare?
Oversharing is revealing an inappropriate amount of details about our personal life. Social media has made oversharing normal and it has become normal to share more of our lives through tweets, vlogs and stories. This has opened up a new world into the private lives of other people, making it acceptable to know personal details about the life of someone we are following, without really knowing them personally.
Called to be a light
We are called to be a light in the world and not to hide our light, essentially our lives, under a basket (Matthew 5:14-15). Instead we are to shine, so that people may see our lives and give glory to our Father in Heaven (v. 16).
Understandably, this can lead us to sharing large parts of our lives as Christians, in an effort to be a witness for Christ. When we talk about our faith, struggles and journey of a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, even the often-unspoken details, people begin to feel more personable towards us as we share those intimate parts of our lives. Thus, we find ourselves divulging more, with friends and strangers alike, online and offline.
There can be solidarity, mutual understanding in certain situations and the solace that comes from shared experience. We can be a point of contact from which other Christians can seek advice or guidance pertaining to an issue we may have shared previously. In this way we can explain the gospel and the impact Christ has had on our lives from an inside perspective.
However, with exposing our lives in this way, also opens our faith up for scrutiny. If we fall or make a mistake, people will see that too in a very public way. Unfortunately, the more we share, the more people believe they have the right to comment. In these situations, the teachings of Jesus on forgiveness, compassion and empathy are easily forgotten. Oversharing increases the pressure to appear perfect and “put together”. People watching us may create a perception of us from what we have shared. This may not always reflect the complete truth of who we are. And sadly, as a result, the message we try to preach becomes lost along the way. Therefore, we should evaluate our reason for sharing this level of detail.
Must we share?
Deep down, if we find we are oversharing and if we do this often, we should ask why. Is there a deeper issue that needs to be resolved in private? Do we require validation from others through the information we are putting out? Are we seeking the approval of man? We do not need to say everything we think (Proverbs 17:28). In the same way we do not need to share everything that happens (Proverbs 28:11). There are aspects of our lives that should be kept private and we must be careful of oversharing.
There are other spaces, not as public, to share more personally;
Within a safe community – a group of friends or likeminded Christians with whom we can share our views and these details of our lives. Not everyone, a chosen few.
Journal – a more personal space where we can share our thoughts away from the attention of others, a private outlet
Through the Holy Spirit – we can forget the Holy Spirit is our helper, who can help us make decisions, including on what we should be sharing, whether online or in conversations offline
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”John 14:26
Finally, we can take our posts, tweets or vlogs to God first. All we do should be for His glory, to point others to Him and not self or for man (1 Cor. 10:31). If we take time to think about what we are sharing, we may not even share it at all. For if we live our lives for His glory, people will naturally notice it through our actions, whether we share it or not.