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oversharing also over-sharing

noun [uncountable]

giving out an excessive amount of personal information, especially in a way which might be considered inappropriate

overshare

verb [intransitive] noun [countable/uncountable]

oversharer

noun [countable]

'Sounds more like his goal is to shock and harrow his listeners with his exploits … especially if he's unzipping his bag of anecdotes and whipping out his arsenal of spine-tingling, hair-raising stories in the middle of a restaurant simply to shock other patrons. There's sharing and then there's oversharing.'

The Globe and Mail 13th January 2010

'Of course, some people have always been more naturally inclined toward oversharing than others. Technology just enables us to overshare on a different scale.'

New York Times 25th May 2008

'Celebrity Overshare? Gisele Gave Birth In Bathtub … How non-Supermodel of her!'

Your Tango 28th January 2010

'Ever had the hankering to inform the planet that you just bought a five-dollar-foot-long at Subway, or spent $54.33 at (ahem) Victoria's Secret? Well, oversharers of the world, rejoice: Thanks to a just-launched, Twitter-like service called Blippy, you can now post all your credit and debit card purchases to the Web, for all to see. Lucky us.'

Yahoo Tech 14th January 2010

The gory details of her agonies in childbirth, the intimacies of his latest relationship, the time their youngest child projectile vomited from the back of the car – these are all anecdotes crying out for an interjection such as "errm – too much information …" or simply TMI. And now, there's a new word which fills the lexical gap for reference to such scenarios: these are examples of oversharing.

The neologism oversharing is the lexical incarnation of a concept we're all familiar with: the divulging of an excessive amount of personal information, information which is conventionally only in the domain of those closest to us, whether it's a confession of undying love or the brand of deodorant we use.

current technology takes the concept of oversharing to a whole new level

However in the 21st century, the concept of oversharing is not just about indiscreet conversation. With online identity becoming ever more significant, people are increasingly compelled to share information about themselves to the virtual community, often regardless of whether they know every member of their audience. And they have various tools at their disposal to do so: they can use Twitter updates to say what irritates them, post photos of offspring on Flickr, confirm their marital status on Facebook, and unwittingly reveal their taste in music, food and clothes by the number of log-ins to particular websites. The web allows individuals to divulge a lot of information about themselves very quickly and to a lot of people, without having a 'real' conversation with any of them. In short, current technology takes the concept of oversharing to a whole new level.

Oversharing seems intrinsically negative, associated with indiscretion and the potential to make oneself unnecessarily vulnerable (not just socially but in other ways too – such as divulging credit card details and financial information). Despite this, there seems evidence to suggest it could be an increasingly significant trend in the online world. Following in the footsteps of Twitter and Facebook, there's a new wave of services emerging which are aimed at helping people share yet more information online. One example is Blippy, which allows people to automatically disclose information about online purchases such as Amazon transactions or iTunes downloads. Some sites even include 'leaderboards' showing who has visited the most restaurants or shops.

So, where do I buy my shampoo? And what's my most annoying habit? Not telling, though would you really have been interested?

Background – oversharing

The term oversharing first appeared in 2008, popularised by writer Emily Gould in an article in the New York Times. Later that year overshare was voted (new) word of the year by Webster's New World Dictionary. Overshare occurs as both an intransitive verb and a noun denoting both the process and an instance of it. There is also some evidence for a nominalisation oversharer as a description of someone who regularly divulges personal information.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 9th February 2010.

Open Dictionary

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