When does sharing become oversharing?

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Ah nothing better than a blogger’s spat, especially a slightly embarrassing one where both urinary tract disfunction and ultimate blogging self-publicist Julia Allison are involved.

Writer of the great media and tech blog BuzzMachine, Jeff Jarvis, got all offended when he was accused of oversharing by another blogger Mark Dery. Jeff writes:

“Mark Dery came to the conclusion that I should not talk about my cancer and my penis. He says I and so-called oversharers like me have a “disease of the psyche.” He says we are “redrawing the boundaries of publicly acceptable behavior.” That is to say, hedoesn’t deem it acceptable.”

And Jeff illustrated his point by publishing a biological picture of a testicular medical examination, an interview with Julia Allison and a blog post defending sharing.

The standard defence for oversharing on the internet is that if the reader doesn’t like something s/he just doesn’t have to read it. This is the argument you see time after time on Youtube videos:
Commenter 1: “OMG I fucking hate this”
Commenter 2: “If you fucking hate it so much why did you watch it?”

And that’s basically the argument that Jeff makes. There’s enough space on the internet for all shades of opinion, topic and style so unless you are getting defamed or people are publishing outright lies, there’s not much excuse to complain about other people’s opinions and writings. Particularly in this case when it is one man coming to terms with a lonely and difficult subject, cancer.

Jeff Jarvis’s other point is that the web is a conversation not a broadcasting tool. Dery, he says, doesn’t understand the net. While broadcasters in traditional media like TV have to be regulated and watch what they say, people on the internet don’t have to follow certain rules, because it’s a conversation.

And in the true spirit of the conversationalist web – his commenters agree with him:

Briantist says: “@Jeff: Given 97.8% of all Hip Hop is about penises, I can’t see how what you so bravely and correctly did can ever been seen as “oversharing”.”

What do you think? Do you get annoyed by overshares? In what situations is oversharing wrong?

Related:Does blogging exhaust your soul? Julia Allison calls quits on emotional blog in emotional blog post

Anna Leach