Home Tech ‘Things I’m ashamed to admit’: TikTok trend driving new level of oversharing

‘Things I’m ashamed to admit’: TikTok trend driving new level of oversharing

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‘Things I’m ashamed to admit’: TikTok trend driving new level of oversharing

WWhether it’s a recipe for last night’s dinner, photos from a recent trip to a gallery, or a track-by-track review of Beyoncé’s new album, the routine of recording our daily lives and our thoughts on social media is now so common that it is no longer clear what actually counts as oversharing.

But an emerging trend in which users are encouraged to post their most painful, often uncomfortable truths is taking online candor to a whole new level.

The latest craze on TikTok is known by the not-so-snappy title “social media is fake, here are things I’m ashamed to admit,” or, more commonly, by the hashtag #socialmediaisfake.

The searches show that users share fears about financial security, ponder the prospect of never finding love, and worry about moving forward in life.

The hashtag has been used more than 26,000 times since March acoustic soundtrack connected to the trend has been used in over 463,000 videos, with millions of views.

Oversharing is a growing phenomenon on social media, as Generation Z in particular – people born between 1996 and 2010 – challenges the use of platforms as a medium for portraying idealized versions of everyday life.

Recent studies have shown that young people fear that their lives will be worse than those of previous generations. Some describe feeling “hopeless” about the future. The 2024 World Happiness Report shows that young people are on track to be less happy than previous generations and are experiencing the equivalent of a midlife crisis.

Hannaha TikTok user who contributed to the #socialmediaisfake trend, says in a video: “I went to college for five years and got my master’s degree, but I still work as a barista and make minimum wage while all my peers get good jobs.” Another user, Nikisays: “I’ve been unemployed for almost a year now because I took a risk and it didn’t work out.”

What may amount to commendable honesty about real generational struggles in some messages can also turn into more disturbing revelations that some liken to a cry for help.

An user, Sanaposted: “I feel alone pretty much all the time, even though I have great friends, I can’t escape the feeling of loneliness.”

Another, Billie Josaid she is 22 and has no qualifications, having not attended full-time education due to “crippling mental health”, meaning she is “terrified of the real world and unsure of what (my) purpose is”.

The trend was started by a 26-year-old in Denmark with a post in March that read “eight things I’m ashamed to say out loud.” Rikke Drue said she made the video after feeling lonely and insecure about her career. “It’s a way to express your feelings and get a hug back,” she added.

Despite having a degree and a good education, Drue said she still felt lost and the post was a way to release these feelings. “I’ve been dealing with these feelings all the time and I always say I’ve taken a break from life because I don’t know what to do and I just felt super lonely with these thoughts,” she added.

The video has since amassed 1.3 million views. In it, she revealed insecurities about her skin, how she often compares herself and her life to what she sees on social media and her fears about whether she will ever be successful in finding love, a career and raising a family. Her love-hate relationship with LinkedIn also came to the fore, as she said using the app is difficult for her when she sees people highlighting their career achievements.

“I thought my feelings were nothing special and that people would have trouble connecting, but when I posted the video it turned out that a lot of other people felt the same way,” she said.

“Once I posted it took me by storm and I went from 700 followers to 5,000 and everyone has been so nice. I have received many messages from people thanking me for sharing my thoughts because they feel less alone in their situation.”

A large number of the participants in the trend are women. Simon Gunning, the CEO of a mental health charity Calm that works to combat suicide, believes trends like these can provide a safe haven for those who would normally suffer in silence.

“Every two days, one woman under the age of 25 takes her own life in Britain. These statistics help understand why the majority of people currently participating in social media fake trend are women,” he said.

Suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 50, but the charity found that women in crisis were not seeking help for fear they would be seen as attention-seeking, dramatic or emotional. Of the 20% who did seek help, according to Calm, one in five were told they were behaving dramatically and another 20% were asked if they were on their period.

“There is still vital work to be done to support women with their mental health, and this trend clearly provides them with an important outlet,” said Gunning.

However, one expert urged caution. Mark Silvert, a London-based psychiatrist, believes that trends involving excessive oversharing bring potential pitfalls. “There is a risk of oversimplifying complex psychological issues or inadvertently glorifying unhealthy coping mechanisms,” he said.

Silvert said the trend of oversharing may encourage participants to make more comparisons with others, reinforcing the issues many are opening up about. “By oversharing and making it a routine to know about strangers’ situations, comparison will inevitably creep in, which can lead to unrealistic standards that then further reduce self-esteem,” he said.

Eloise Skinner, a psychotherapist, believes the key to mastering online information sharing is to use it as a stepping stone towards greater transparency to improve your mental health.

“This trend is certainly not a sustainable method that will provide all healing, but it will certainly encourage more people to be more open about what they are going through,” she said. “I hope this can be the first step for people to seek professional help to achieve longer-term improvements in their mental health.”

TikTok said a “diversity of communities” use the platform to “share their authentic selves, find real connection, and have open conversations about mental wellness,” and it has done just that safety guidelines including not promoting suicide or self-harm.

“As a platform, we have strict policies to keep TikTok a supportive space and provide wellness resources for our community, including a guide with tips on how to share their story with care,” a spokesperson said.

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