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People who overshare just want to be accepted

Last updated 12:22 19/06/2014
Miley Cyrus

ULTIMATE OVERSHARER: Miley Cyrus has a habit of oversharing on social media.

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Isn't it ironic when the things we do end up having the opposite effect to the desired outcome.

Like when people make desperate cries for attention, it makes us less likely to want to give them any. It's in the only-encourage-good-behaviour school of thought.

Miley Cyrus and her doppleganger, Justin Bieber, are notable exceptions here. But, then their desperate cries are so fabulously outrageous, we must take a moment to marvel and lavish concerned attention before we return to mourning the decay of mankind.

Anyway, we digress.

Social media has provided an unparalleled platform for attention-seeking behaviour. Perhaps best represented by the overshare. Take Facebook posts for instance.

Oversharing is prolific. People post soft-porn photos of themselves, the details of their dinner/their latest break-up/ their child's bowel habits. And they're the amateurs. The real deal does hard-ons, tampons and STDs.

Contrary to the concern that people have lost all sense of decency, it turns out that they just want to connect.

A study by psychologists at Albright University found that disclosing details and excessive information was related to attention-seeking, and acceptance-seeking, "but was unrelated to seeking connection with and expressing caring for others".

The psychologists studied the "true self" expression of 184 college undergraduates. True self, they explain, consists of qualities an individual currently possesses but does not normally express to others.

Previous studies have found that many find it easier to be their true self to a wider audience online.

"When we're looking at the screen we're not face-to-face with someone who can immediately respond to us, so it's easier to let it all out - it's almost like we're invisible," said the author of one recent study on the extended self in a digital world. "The irony is that rather than just one person, there's potentially thousands or hundreds of thousands of people receiving what we put out there."

Indeed. With a wider reach there is the potential for greater acceptance. But it seems that the scattergun approach to sharing - and creating "drama", as the study found that those who feel they are being their true selves have a tendency to do - backfires.

"Those who express the true self do not receive more wall posts from others in response to their greater expressiveness," the study reads. "Their self-oriented motives may be apparent to their Facebook friends, causing them to not respond in kind."

But, some still don't seem to take the hint.

"Alternatively, there could be a disconnect between the levels of self-disclosure with which these users and their friends are comfortable."

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- Sydney Morning Herald


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