IFWC, Lena Dunham, and the epidemic of oversharing

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I had the privilege of attending the Indiana Faith and Writing Conference last weekend. I’ll be honest – I went into the conference expecting to get very little out of it, since I assumed the conference was for writers of fiction. It actually turned out to be a great conference and well worth my time (thank goodness!).

The very first session I went to was with Nate Pyle, a fellow blogger and thinker, and with him I found a kindred spirit. He had my attention with some of his earliest words: authenticity is the new Christian buzzword. AMEN AND AMEN. I think vulnerability and authenticity are not just Christianity’s new buzzwords, but our entire culture. Just look at Lena Dunham.

I know everyone has something to say about the chaos surrounding Lena and her story. Several bloggers have written great articles on why oversharing is so dangerous, and I don’t want to regurgitate their words to you. But I think this is a conversation we need to be having. Why is there such a pull to tell too much online?

Another thing Nate said was protect the stories of others, and I think that should be in some kind of blogger manifesto. It is our responsibility as storytellers to only tell the stories that are ours. Even if Lena got her sister’s permission, the story isn’t really Lena’s to tell. It was her sister’s. And that story should have been gently cared for and protected, not laid out under a microscope for people to analyze and evaluate.

I think Nate said it best when he said this: take where you are one step further. And that doesn’t always mean sharing more – sometimes it means being challenged to share less. We hide behind our strong opinions and make them our mask instead of saying I just don’t know; I don’t have all the answers. I might not be interesting enough for the internet if I don’t tell you about what makes me cry at night or the last date I went on, but I have to be willing to risk being boring if that means I can be a safe person and a good friend to the people I know offscreen. Because if I don’t, my online presence might flourish but my real life friends won’t.

The people you love are worth the risk. Save your stories for them. And by doing so, you invite them to love you better than any Facebook friends or Twitter followers can.

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