You never know what you’re going to see when you open social media. There may be pictures of cute pets, exotic vacations, or fancy dinners. Then there could be a selection of posts you didn’t want to see, like X-rays and details of medical issues, an infant spitting up or a public post that should have been a journal entry. While social media helps people connect and share stories, it also festers negative habits and feelings that disallow them from feeling truly happy.
There are many people who tend to overshare online, and their lives have become a soap opera to their followers. They complain every time they get a flat tire, post almost every meal and give a play-by-play of their relationships. You may know such a person or you may be that person. Sharing personal details online may feel good in the short term as likes and comments pour in, but it will leave you feeling less happy than before.
Why People Overshare Personal Details Over Social Media
For many, social media is a way to feel validated. People have a desire to be socially accepted and appreciated. This is part of the reason why people tend to show only a façade of themselves online. Their photos are ridiculously flattering and depict a life grander than their reality. However, the flutter of excitement from popularity online doesn’t actually turn them truly happy.
Instead, it makes the person crave more validation to keep up that high. This could begin a cycle of lowered self-esteem, especially on platforms surrounded by other “perfect people” with “perfect lives”. (Note that being aware of other people’s façades doesn’t make anyone immune to feeling negative toward themselves.) 
Low self-esteem will increase the need for more validation in many aspects of life, from commiserating about a long line at the post office to boasting every time the significant other does something romantic.
For some people, posting about these things is a way to express emotions, but that’s the important part of it: the expressing. For the oversharer, the important part is the reaction of others. That’s one distinction between a healthy or unhealthy use of social media: Would you be content if only a few people interacted with your post?
Oversharing or Spreading Awareness?
It’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint an oversharer because oversharing is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people might consider a post about a person’s miscarriage oversharing, while others might appreciate the person’s bravery to be open about their struggles. 
The distinction isn’t always dependent on the viewers, however. It could depend on how something is worded. For instance, let’s take someone posting about taking an SSRI to help with their anxiety. It’s often easy to tell their intentions by their phrasing. Usually, they want others to feel empowered to reach out for help as well, or they are using their pain to get attention. You could usually tell by the replies, whether they are filled with an emotional “thank you for speaking up” or a simpering “oh no, are you doing okay?”
Many people make the choice to share difficult experiences online to help those going through something similar. They are not trying to receive validation for their pain; they are trying to aid others. Their posts tend to take on a hopeful note. But if the motivation is attention, the post tends to sound like whining about their troubles. It’s clear which kind of post actually spreads positive awareness about a challenging topic. Similarly, it’s clear which kind of post will give greater long-term satisfaction to its poster.
That’s not to say one shouldn’t express dark feelings on social media. Writing and posting about struggles could feel very therapeutic. But as said before, is the point to express yourself or garner attention from others? Because if the answer is the latter, the negative feelings will only worsen if the attention is not received. But expressing yourself is healthy in and of itself, no matter how many people comment on it.
Feeling Truly Happy and Validated
In summary, posting personal details and stories on social media isn’t inherently bad. It depends on the mindset of the person posting. And if they are seeking happiness and validation through their posts, they end up feeling miserable — that is until the next temporary rush of their next post.
If you seek validation through social media, it might be time to unplug for a bit. Give yourself the time and space to find confidence and self-worth through longer-lasting methods. Share your personal stories and pains with the people who actually care. Talk to them in-person or over the phone, or even through DMs. You will find these sorts of interactions a lot more comforting than empty comments on social media. Talking things through with someone kind and encouraging will actually help you feel better in the long-term. 
Remember that you are more than an online persona. Social media shouldn’t control your view on how truly happy and healthy you are. You are worthy of contentment no matter how many likes your post receives. So find things offline that make you feel good about yourself.
And while you are at it, become your own source of validation. Your self-talk may be filled with negativity, which is why you need the words of others to alleviate your insecurities. Practice being kind to yourself in your self-evaluations. Appreciate your accomplishments without downplaying them. Accept your failures without beating yourself up about them. 
You don’t need social media to be truly happy. And you don’t need others to acknowledge personal issues and stories. Yes, you may continue to post them online. But you don’t need the likes as long as you like yourself.
- “The FOMO Is Real: How Social Media Increases Depression and Loneliness.” Healthline. Gigen Mammoser. December 10, 2018.
- “Why do people overshare? The psychology behind revealing personal details.” Mic. Natalia Lusinski. November 10, 2020
- “Social Media and Oversharing (Less is more).” Thrive Global. Stuart Fensterheim. June 3, 2019.
- “Seeking Validation Online Doesn’t Bring Real Happiness.” Psychology Today. Beverly D. Flaxington. February 12, 2016