Mum’s the word? Why oversharing might be dangerous to your mental health

We’re all just humans – which makes it perfectly understandable why we tend to look for some kind of release whenever we’re feeling happy, down, ecstatic, or simply bored. Sharing what’s inside our heads – sometimes, even what’s inside our hearts – can easily take some of the stress from us. However, we should all set limits on just how much we share.

Since it’s easier to communicate today, thanks to social media platforms and digital communication tools, we tend to overshare details about our lives. The downside is, while we mindlessly tell people things about us, we forget that there should be boundaries, such as how much we say and how our confidant should treat the information they receive.

This situation is what sparked the interest of Lindsey Aloia, assistant professor of communication at the University of Arkansaswhich prompted her to initiate a study on human behavior. She decided to study people’s reactions once they find out that information they considered private was relayed to the public by a person they trust.

Aloia used the data from a survey she distributed to 216 college students about the disruption of privacy for her findings. They included details about the number of people they shared their secret with, the emotions they felt, their thoughts on privacy breach, and what they’ve done as a response.

Results showed that it is normal for people to feel angered and saddened when their private matters are discussed or shared with the public without their consent. It also appeared that the number of people who received the information was a predictor of emotional response.

The level of emotions – anger, fear, and sadness – increased in conjunction with the number of people who breached the privacy. This kind of situation is mentally unhealthy as an original owner tends to lash out at those who snitched on him through yelling, attacking, or arguing with them.

Moreover, this kind of response grows stronger the more the owner thinks about the breach. Students in the study who responded with fear and sadness reported having become withdrawn.

According to the context of communication privacy management theory, which Aloia used, any private information is considered a possession, and once it is shared, it also becomes the property of the other person. Naturally, the original owner of the information expects that the person he/she shared the secret with would keep it — it’s as if there’s an unwritten rule about it.

In the event the unwritten rule is violated, regardless of how implicit it was, the original owner will go through a phase called the “boundary turbulence,” as per the theory. Essentially, it is similar to the feeling of being betrayed.

Some studies conducted in the past hinted that there are people who use such an event or opportunity to reevaluate their relationship with the co-owner and tweak or create new privacy rules. Meanwhile, other studies suggest that “a breach of confidence weakens the relationship.”

Aloia concluded that in this age of social media, there is a considerable need to set boundaries, particularly in sharing the private information of other people. She added, “Although it takes coordination at the start, it’s an important step in the process.”

Why oversharing online is dangerous

Being extra careful in sharing information online is very important to avoid the following risks:

  • People can easily locate you, your family, or anyone else you are with.
  • You can be a victim of hackers, people who create fake accounts, and online harassers.
  • You’re putting your reputation at stake.

It’s true what they say, too much of something isn’t healthy. Check out to see if you’re becoming addicted social media.

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