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Oversharing refers to the act of disclosing unsolicited information about one’s personal history or private life in excess via social networking and media sharing platforms.
According to Ben Zimmer, a language columnist and executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, the earliest known use of the term “oversharing” on the web can be traced back to a comment posted in the Usenet newsgroup Houston.Personals in May 1997. In the comment, a user named “M & L Abrams” remarked that her brother-in-law calls her the “queen of overshare.”
I always am impressed by people, especially men, (though
somewhat suspicious) who bare their self in a public forum.
Could be nuts, could be a perv, could be an interesting
person. I myself am called the “queen of overshare” by my
dear brother-in-law, so I feel a certain sympatico. :)
By 1998, the term had been adopted into a label typically used in subject lines of posts to caution others of a personal information overload, along with the acronym T.M.I (“too much information”), which also became widely used around the same time.
However, the concept of “oversharing” didn’t gain much recognition as an online phenomenon until the first half of the 2000s with the advents of blogging platforms like LiveJournal and Blogger, as well as the early social networking site MySpace. On Urban Dictionary, the term “TMI” (shown below, left) was defined for the first time on October 8th, 2002, followed by the earliest known definition of “oversharing” (below, right) on December 14th, 2003.
Between 2004 and 2006, three additional entries for “oversharing” were submitted to Urban Dictionary, reflecting a steady growth in the usage of the term during those years. On July 23rd, 2007, NBC News reported on the growing social trend of oversharing in an article titled “Beware the overshare in everyday conversations,” observing that the availability of online publishing platforms where people can tell their own stories has led them to share too much in everyday conversations in real life:
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.
In May 2008, online discussions about “oversharing” in the blogosphere really began to gain momentum after the New York Times Magazine ran a cover article on the phenomenon by Emily Gould, a former editor at Gawker, who revealed several details of her professional and private life to exemplify the present dangers of oversharing on the web.
In January 2009, a single topic blog devoted to curating a variety of “oversharing” tweets and status updates was launched under the domain Oversharers.com. In March that year, STFU, Parents, a single topic blog focused on covering parental overshares, was launched by Brooklyn-based writer Blair Koenig. In December 2008, Webster’s New World Dictionary declared the verb “to overshare” the Word of the Year, giving further boost to the slang term.
Huffington Post – Online Overshares: 32% Say They’ve Experienced ’Poster’s Remorse’
The Washington Post – Where do people overshare most online? Hint: It’s not the U.S.
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