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The Art of Not Sharing

It’s a typical Monday morning. You wake up, reach for your phone, and within seconds, you’re scrolling through an endless stream of updates.

Your college roommate has a new puppy. Your aunt’s dog just died. Your coworker made homemade sourdough bread. Your second cousin just broke up with their partner. Very, very publicly.

And before long, you’re adding to the noise. You’re posting about your early morning fog, your seasonal depression. That crushing existential dread. Etc.

Without realising it, you’ve consumed and shared more personal information with the people in your life before your first cup of coffee than your grandparents did in a month.

It’s all painfully, intensely human.

That’s not always a good thing.

This constant input and output of information, this ceaseless sharing of our lives, has become so normalized that we barely notice it anymore. It seems like innocuous behavior. But there are psychological, social, and emotional consequences that we’re only beginning to understand.

From the earliest cave paintings to our ancestors’ oral storytelling traditions, we’ve always found ways to communicate our experiences to others. Social media has amplified this urge to unprecedented levels. With just a few taps on a screen, we can instantly share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences with hundreds or even thousands of people. It’s a power that would have seemed almost godlike just a few decades ago.

As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. And just to rip the band-aid right off - it’s a responsibility that many of us are ill-equipped to handle. We tear ourselves apart, we spiral - and then spiral over our spiralling. We don’t know how or when to stop.

In the pre-digital age, privacy was the default state. Sharing information required effort - writing a letter, making a phone call, or having a face-to-face conversation. Now, privacy requires effort. We have to actively choose not to share, to resist the temptation to post, to keep our thoughts and experiences to ourselves.

This reversal has profound implications. When sharing is the default, we share without thinking, flooding our networks with a constant stream of information. Some of it’s harmless, sure. So much of it is deeply personal, our darkest thoughts, our fears, our compulsive thoughts.

Relationships are strained or ended because of misinterpreted tweets. Reputations are damaged by ill-considered updates. These are not hypothetical scenarios - they’re the reality for a lot of folks who have fallen victim to their own oversharing.

And the risks aren’t just external. When we’re always performing for an audience, always curating our experiences for public consumption, we’re losing touch with our selves.

Think about the last time you had a meaningful experience. Even just a moment you want to remember. Fuck it, 4th of July fireworks. Did you immediately reach for your phone to share it? And, in that moment of sharing, did you fully experience the event itself? Or were you already thinking about how to frame it for your followers?

This constant curation of our lives for public consumption creates a dangerous feedback loop. We don’t value experiences for their intrinsic worth - we value them solely for their shareability. We judge our lives by how they look to others, not by how they feel to us.

The answer to all of this is simpler than you think: start a journal.

Groundbreaking, I know.

Journaling is nothing new, of course. People have been keeping diaries and journals for centuries. In the oversharing era, the humble journal takes on new significance. Journaling itself becomes a radical act of privacy, a deliberate choice to keep our thoughts and experiences to ourselves.

I think of my journal as my private social media feed, one where I’m the only follower. Like a social media platform, it’s a place for me to share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Unlike social media, there’s no pressure for me to perform, no need to curate, no risk of oversharing.

I’ve built my journal in Notion. Most of my journal entries max out at one paragraph. They often take the form of private, 280 character tweets.

And in that format, I can be completely honest. I can share my deepest fears and wildest dreams without worrying about judgment or misinterpretation. I can rant about my work without fear of consequences. I can be silly, serious, angry, or elated, and no one will know but me.

This freedom to be authentic is incredibly freeing. I can process my experiences more fully, understand my own thoughts and feelings without the distorting lens of public perception. It gives me a space to reflect, to grow, to learn from my mistakes without the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

Journaling helps me resist the dopamine-driven cycle of social media sharing. When I post on social media, I get an immediate hit of validation in the form of likes, comments, and shares. It’s the craving for dopamine and attention that keeps me coming back to social media, constantly checking for updates and looking for my next hit of validation.

Journaling provides a different kind of satisfaction. There’s no immediate feedback, no external validation. Instead, the reward comes from the act of writing itself, from the clarity and insight we gain through self-reflection.

It’s a slower, more subtle form of gratification. And that matters.

Making the switch from constant sharing to private journaling isn’t easy. We’ve become accustomed to the instant gratification of social media, to the constant feedback and interaction. Journaling can feel lonely in comparison, like shouting into a void.

This loneliness is precisely the point. In the constant connection, in the endless noise and chatter, we need spaces of silence and solitude. We need opportunities to hear our own thoughts, to listen to our own inner voice without the distraction of likes and comments.

I’m not arguing for abandoning social media. I wouldn’t have a career without it. And for a lot of folks, it can be a support network, a way to feel less isolated, a way to help other people feel heard. To resonate.

That’s all well and good.

It can’t be the entirety of our personal expression. There has to be a part of ourselves that we keep for ourselves.

We have to reach for it as much as we reach for Threads or Twitter.

Instead of always posting about your frustrating day at work, post about it in your journal. Instead of sharing every detail of your vacation on Instagram, use your journal to reflect on your experiences and what they meant to you. You might be surprised at how satisfying this can be, how it allows you to process your experiences more deeply and meaningfully. Don’t pressure yourself to recount every minute detail of every day. Just…well, post in it. A post that only you will see, a status update for an audience of one.

In a society that increasingly values visibility over privacy, choosing to keep parts of our lives to ourselves can feel almost countercultural. Journaling is, in fact, punk as fuck.

It’s a reclamation something precious: the right to our own thoughts, our own experiences, our own inner lives.

There’s value in it, even if the instant feedback isn’t there.

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