Tales of T.M.I.: When Does Oversharing Become Overbearing?
(Photo: Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight.com)
T.M.I. Too much information. Ever shared more than you should? Ever gone out on a limb, to have no one join you there?
You, too, could be a practitioner of T.M.I. You’re oversharing, of a very personal sort, to folks who may or may not want to hear it (but, let’s be honest, probably not). Like colleagues. Folks at church. Your not-well-curated social media networks. Unsure if you’ve ever done it?
Let’s assess, via criteria I like to call “The 7 B’s”:
- Is it about bodily fluids?
- Is it regarding bedroom activity?
- Does it involve your boobs, your bump, your bum or your balls?
- And finally, not a B but an important question: Did you experience sharing regret — even a smidge?
If yes, to any/all of these criteria, then you might be an oversharer. According to Urban Dictionary — esteemed and accurate source that it is — T.M.I. is, “information more personal than anyone wants, or needs, to know.” Word.
Now, don’t get me wrong: There are some times when oversharing might be appropriate.
In addition to being a writer and media-type, I’m a Pilates instructor, and there’s a lot of sharing that goes on before, after (and sometimes during) the average class, almost all of which is not for the prudish or faint of heart. For example: “I’m on my period. (The world’s most common TMI comment, come to think of it.) Or “I can’t find my pelvic floor! Is that my vagina?” which is another frequent one. Not to mention the inevitable farting (TMI of the olfactory sort), which just goes along with the territory.
I’m also an avid runner, and we runners overshare, too. Everything from “Look at my toe! The nail just fell off!” to “I totally crapped myself during that race.”
Runners even launch “snot rockets” (AKA the “farmer’s blow”) in front of each other. Hey, we gotta get the snot out somehow! There’s not much pride when the body is tested to its limits in a close community, and therefore there’s really no such thing as “too much information.”
This stuff is gross, but is all fairly innocent. It’s anticipated and even expected in the respective environments. T.M.I. is natural in a space where physical activity is a unifying force.
But in the workplace, it’s an entirely different story.
My friend Sarah once discreetly handed her boss a tampon when she was asked for one. Her boss then held the tampon up above the table in the light — during a meeting — and asked if it was a golf pencil. The boss then added that she had birthed a baby, so this sad attempt at a tampon was never going to cut it. Sarah swiftly excused herself, mortified, while the rest of the room laughed with the boss. She was the boss, after all.
Buddy Allison once witnessed male colleagues at an investment bank discussing their love for drinking their lactating wives’ milk. My pal Kate has heard way too many vasectomy details, my friend Noel is disgusted by bodily function chit-chat and my girl Julie is tired of having people saying stuff like, “my dad DIED from that!” when she mentions a minor ailment. College compadre Dave reinforces the hatred of the period talk. Enough, ladies, with the period talk!
And me? When it comes to oversharing, I’m a known offender. Even outside of the work environment.
I get into trouble on Facebook a lot. My offenses range from announcing my rhinoplasty to mammogram details to hangover factoids that I just might not want the world to know (in retrospect).
My family has often noted, much to my dismay, that I’ve gone over the line. Again and again. In addition to other details, they don’t need or want to hear about my sex life (null and void as it currently is).
Longtime and dear friend Tricia notes that oversharing (on my part) is often “cringeworthy.” Yikes.
Not surprisingly, my T.M.I. is not without other consequences. I recently posted a photo (again, on Facebook. Damn you, Facebook!) of my cut and bloody toe, complete with the bloody floor that resulted. I got several “what’s wrong?!” private messages (not comments but PMs, so you know the folks were concerned). My amigo Heather pushed further and noted that this was a very strange pic to share. So I took it down. And felt kinda stupid. And beat myself up a bit for being such a weirdo.
My mom always told me, “If you don’t want your Grandmother to see or read this, don’t share it.” Probably great words to live by. If I could.
Why do I do it? Why I am such a willing participant in oversharing? That’s the million-dollar question, I suppose. My guess is that I’ve always enjoyed the excitement of shock value — I love the reactions. Or that I wanted to play on par with the boys. Or that I’m just a nutty girl who likes to live out loud.
I’ll go with the latter.
And I may try to adjust my habits. Maybe. After all, no one likes T.M.I.
What’s your worst TMI story? Share in our comments!
Editor’s Note: Sharing is Caring | Tue Night
[…] Jody Jones asks when sharing becomes TMI […]
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