Do We Talk Too Much?

“Everybody’s talkin’ at me. I can’t hear a word they’re sayin’. Only the echoes of my mind.” The Beautiful South

Or, as defined by my dictionary:

Talk (vb): to express one’s thoughts or feelings by means of spoken words; to exchange ideas or opinions about something.


I’m on Twitter. I tweeted 25,000 times in a year. I’m clearly a person who likes to talk. The whole idea of Twitter is communication; what you are doing, where you are going, debate about current affairs, news updates, and the inevitable #XFactor chat (Le sigh). It is, in effect, an online version of an office, a common room, a pub. A place for debate and chat between like-minded (or not) individuals. We are human beings, we need to communicate. John Donne was absolutely spot on when he wrote “No man is an island, entire of itself“.

However I have also been thinking; do we talk about things too much?

For example, I know a woman (not on Twitter, if you are wondering) who articulates what appears to be her every thought. She doesn’t specifically talk to me, it’s more a stream of consciousness I am aware of when in her vicinity. I know about her home life, her husband, her dilemma of being too hot or too cold, what she should eat for lunch, whether she should phone her sister not, her dilemmas (myriad) over the next course of action on a case. I have been known to put headphones in just so I can get something done myself.

It’s not the noise factor I particularly object to, though sometimes a bit of silence would be nice, it’s the over-sharing. I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to know the intimate (or not) details of her evening at home. She is an extreme example but taking to my other great sphere of communication, Twitter, I regularly see: break ups, arguments (personal), and serious over-sharing of the bedroom & bathroom variety. And sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if it is all really necessary.

Do we really all need to hear about what X said to Y, the details (and I mean intimate) of your last doctors/dentist/hospital appointment? If your other half was a pain last night, is right we hear all about how selfish/ignorant/uncaring they are? I know that communication is an essential part of us but surely there needs to be a balance?

Is there sometimes value in a stiff upper lip, putting a brave face and getting on with life? Is it sometimes healthier to do that? Having a “stiff upper lip” has always seemed to me a very upper class, even aristocratic trait. Particularly English and generally more predominantly male. These are my views, I haven’t conducted any kind of scientific study into the matter. But there are times when I think it is a trait to be emulated.

For instance, how hard would it be to say “I’m ok, thanks” in reply to a question about how you are? You could even be really daring and say you were good, instead of the over-spill of detail about your work problems, relationship woes, and incipient health worries. It’s not necessarily about truth in these circumstances, it’s sociolinguistics, a way of establishing contact with other people. It’s the same as talking about the weather so why not try appreciating the lingering Autumnal sunshine, rather than complaining about the cold?

So what do you think? Are you a chronic (over?) sharer or a stiff upper lipper? Do you like hearing all the intimate details of other lives and woes or do you sometimes wish everyone would just shut up? Thoughts on a comment box-shaped postcard, please.



My own personal caveat: there are mental health issues, life events, accidents, all so horrific that counselling is the only way. We suffer accidents, witness atrocities, have vile things done to us or our loved ones.  Then I firmly believe in the power of talking and listening as part of the way to help us heal.

7 thoughts on “Do We Talk Too Much?

  1. To an extent, I understand what you’re saying. I am not interested in bowel movements, and I particularly am careful not to be disloyal to my partner, who is an infrequent tweeter. However, when I was going through a period of severe stress and anxiety, being open about it was helpful as so many people contacted me both openly and by DMs telling me I wasn’t alone, and I can’t fully express my gratitude at how comforting and reassuring that was. (I must admit, the sight of someone outing an unfaithful partner on Twitter was particularly unedifying).

  2. Interesting read .. I persaonally as the saying goes .. Wear my heart on my sleeve.. So I like to share but only with the people that I think, care .. I love twitter but I like to keep some things private.. Too much info and all that .. Maybe though talking face to face is not as popular as it was or on the phone .. People,text, tweet, fb, and email .. I still like to talk with my mouth rather than my fingers pressing keys..

  3. Certainly good food for thought. I often see cases of over sharing online, sometimes to a degree that makes me feel quite uncomfortable as the observer.

    As for myself, I am definitely one who keeps my online life fairly superficial, reflected by a relatively meagre 7,000ish Tweets over four and a half years. I always think of Twitter like a large party in a room with friends as well as strangers, and therefore I wouldn’t go into the room, announce my latest bathroom victory or graphic details of my sex life. To be fair I probably won’t share that even with my very closest of friends in a much more private setting.

    However, there is a certain liberation about discussing some deeper details openly. Sometimes things happen in life that, no matter how personal, are just too big to keep inside and so to speak out about it releases some of the pressure associated with it. Also with places like Twitter, support can often be found, even from people you hardly know or least expect.

    In short, I don’t think it’s always a bad thing, but just something that needs judgement, to be able to see the line between a necessary release of feeling and simply sharing every detail for the sake of talking.

  4. Excuse an old man his pedantry, but ‘Everybody’s Talking’ by The Beautiful South? They certainly did a cover (as did The Coral) but the defining version is that of Harry Nillson from the 1969 film ‘Midnight Cowboy’ The song was written by Fred Neil.
    If you have not heard his version, check it out.
    And the film is a must-see; a genuine classic

  5. Oh I reckon people do talk too much, way too much. I’ve always thought that people who share too much intimate stuff (and I don’t mean those sharing with their best mates over a drink for a bit of support or advice) are those who are rather insecure and need constant reassurance or attention. These are the types that get a swift unfollow from me on twitter.

    I am more of the stiff upper lip variety as you call it, or maybe just a really private person as I call it. I do talk about things that I find important however (but really only with those closest to me), and I get easily irritated by those who whinge and moan constantly about things that I consider to be rather unimportant or petty. But then again, just because something is unimportant to me doesn’t mean it’s unimportant to others. It’s the people that constantly moan about their lives that really get me, especially when people generally have control over about 95% of their lives and yet do nothing about the things they constantly moan about. They also get a swift unfollow. Generally speaking, those who constantly moan about their lives have nothing much to moan about.

    Now I may bitch and moan on twitter quite a lot – mainly about the Tories, pubic transport, when Question Time is on, or who the stupid British public has voted for in X Factor, but not once have I ever moaned about my life. To be honest, I mainly just talk absolute shite on twitter just for the craic. I don’t recall me ever mentioning a bowel movement on twitter. I don’t feel the entire world needs to know when I’ve had one. Although I may have mentioned once or twice that I needed a wee. I may have been drunk at the time.

    I feel I have gone off track a bit now….. I’ll shut up 😉

  6. I find the whole “I’m fine thanks” response to be an extremely useful one, when things may be absolutely going down the pan, but the person who is asking isn’t one you want to discuss things with!

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