Monday, July 23, 2007

Beware the overshare in everyday conversations

No subject’s off-limits as we’re getting more accustomed to TMI
By Melissa Dahl
Health writer
Updated: 8:33 a.m. CT July 23, 2007

Melissa Dahl
Health writer
• E-mail
Like so many of us, Dan Estabrook never even saw it coming.
It was a normal day at work when his office manager called him into her office for a normal-sounding meeting — until she unloaded a not-so-normal nugget of information.
“I wanted to let you know,” she said, “I’ve taken a live-in lover.”
Cue the awkward silence: Estabrook found himself victim of an overshare.
Blurting out too much information, or TMI, is something we’re becoming more and more comfortable with, some psychologists say. We obsess over the mundane details of celebrities’ lives and are eager to tell our own stories on blogs and Flickr accounts. And often, all that online openness seeps into everyday conversations.
Blame it on narcissism
One psychologist blames the influx of the overshare on an increase in individualism — and with that comes a hike in narcissism. We’re oversharing more now because we’re pretty pleased with ourselves, says Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.
“We just assume they’re going to be interested because it’s about me. Of course it’s interesting!” says Twenge, who is currently working on a book about narcissism among teens and twentysomethings.
But Leslie Reisner, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, is encouraged by all the sharing going on. Calling it narcissism is too negative, she says.
“There’s something healthy about sharing,” Reisner says. “It means they know it’s OK to show vulnerability.”
Spilling personal details can be a sign of self-confidence, Reisner believes, and 32-year-old Todd Enoch agrees.
“When I was younger, I was much more reserved,” says Enoch, who lives in Denton, Texas. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve broken out of my shell. Now I can share more with people.”
And sometimes, Enoch admits, he ventures into overshare territory. He remembers a scene at work when his co-workers were discussing how happy they were that the T-shirts for an upcoming promotional activity weren’t white.
“I don’t like wearing white things either,” Enoch chimed in, and then blurted out, “I just sweat at the drop of the hat!”

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