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Oversharing: New Book Reveals The Extreme Side Of Online Oversharing

04/15/2013 02:40 EDT | Updated 06/15/2013 05:12 EDT
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A Facebook Inc. logo is displayed at the top of the login page for facebook.com on a computer screen in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Facebook Inc. is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Jan. 30. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TORONTO - It's one thing to post baby photos on your Facebook page, but sharing snapshots of and details about the contents of their diapers is a step too far for Blair Koenig.

For years, she has been mocking cases of TMI run amok on her popular blog and has now written a book offering her tongue-in-cheek take on online oversharing.

"If you're posting any pictures of anything that came out of your child, then that in and of itself is just kind of wrong. But I think that outside of that there are other indicators," she said in a phone interview from Brooklyn, N.Y.

"If you post a picture of your child before school and you say: 'She looks so cute before school today,' that's fine. But if you do it every single day, and you're like: 'Day 13, Day 14.' You know, a lot of people do that. So you have to keep yourself in check."

Koenig started her blog — STFU, Parents — in 2009 after noticing a shift in content on her online newsfeed: a proliferation of baby-related posts, from ultrasound images to details about bodily functions. She writes in the similarly named book about feeling overwhelmed by the number of baby updates and wondering if she was the only one experiencing "kidformation overload."

She clearly wasn't. Both Koenig's blog and her new book feature submissions from readers previously posted on social media that are rife with intimate, even cringe-inducing detail.

One mother writes online of being "so excited" that for the past two days her daughter had had no accidents and "kept her underwear dry all day." She then proceeds to share detailed specifics on her child's potty accomplishments.

In another post, a woman named Joyce celebrates a highly personal milestone with her friends online.

"Two years ago today, I married the man of my dreams. And one year ago today, we made Addison!"

Before they hit the send button, Koenig said she simply wants parents to consider their audience and be mindful not only of the content of their posts but of the number of people who will see it.

While proud parents have always been keen to share anecdotes about or photos of their kids, the ease of doing so on social media may lead some to take the practice to a level deemed by others as excessive.

"If you were to go to a party and show someone 12 pictures of your child when you're just trying to hang out and have a good time, I think that was the original version of this. But even then, nobody would have pulled out an album and said: 'Here are 5,000,'" said Koenig. "I think the tool of social media has definitely exacerbated what was already there.

"A lot of people see social media as more of a digital scrapbook than they do as a place, as public forum to engage with people," she added. "I think they see it more as their individual space. And they treat it as you would treat a diary."

It's not just the intimate details of childbirth and detailed posts on a child's every move that are highlighted in the "STFU, Parents" blog and book. Koenig also shares examples of what she terms "mommyjacking": a reference to those who hijack a friend's status update to talk about parenting — typically when it has nothing to do with the original post.

"Today has to be the worst day of the year so far. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong," writes Nichole.

Ginny's response? "Guess what went right? Ava is 6 today! We love you."

Koenig, who turns 31 on April 30, currently doesn't have kids of her own, but hopes to one day. She said she's not purporting to be a parenting expert, but simply wants to open up a discussion and dialogue about oversharing on social media.

She said doesn't receive the same level of backlash she once did in response to the blog. What's more, at least 70 per cent of emails she now receives from those who've discovered and relate to the blog are from parents.

"If you think about it, parents have more parent friends and they see more of this stuff in their feed. So what I end up getting is a lot of emails from parents who say: 'I've already wiped my kid's butt 12 times today. I don't need to see my friend's kid's butt in addition to that when I go to Facebook to relax. I'm going to Facebook to connect with friends and have a laugh in the midst of my busy life.'"

Koenig has a "Mom's Gold Star" section on her site to celebrate parents who use social media in a light-hearted and funny way to share their child-rearing observations. She shares similarly humorous examples in her book.

"I just watched my child shove a half of a cheeseburger in her mouth at once. It's like dining with a reticulated python," writes Jared.

"Even though the blog is about overshare, it shouldn't only be a discussion about overshare," said Koenig. "It should also be a discussion about what is great about social media and ways that it connects us that are awesome."

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