Menu Close

Totes TMI: how Kristen Stewart embodies the modern trend of online oversharing

Kristen Stewart engaged in classic oversharing when she admitted to a dalliance with director Rupert Sanders. EPA/David Maung

Along with Caltex job losses and concerns over whether Our Leisel has thunder thighs, I woke this morning to news that Kristen cheated on R-Patz.

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson – for those not yet baptised into the cult of the vampire romp - are the leads of the Twilight franchise. The two have apparently been enmeshed in a real life romance spawned from their on screen love. Or some syrupy such.

And apparently their blessed union has recently been compromised. Stewart, who’d also recently starred in the mediocre Snow White and the Huntsman apparently bonked the film’s married director Rupert Sanders.

Why do we know any of this? Because Stewart issued a statement. A statement which divulged the affair, divulged her regret, divulged the proverbial hurt she’d caused.

And the Twittersphere is taking sides and sharpening pitch forks and zealously buying into the melodrama as though it is happening to people they actually know.

On one hand the story is yet another breezy piece of Hollywood trivia that’s less news and much more pap. Yet another melodrama fabricated by franchise executives to get us salivating for an upcoming film.

Then again, it might also be the perfect story to illustrate our Zeitgeist.

Dad recently gave me the rundown of a family function I’d dodged. My cousin, apparently, turned up with the new girlfriend. “Christy,” I volunteered. Dad furrowed his brow. “Facebook.” True, I hadn’t seen that cousin in over a year - let alone ever met the girlfriend - but Facebook determined that it was all old news.

There’d been the formal relationship status declaration, complete with the close-up, all-teeth photos. There’d been the predictable bad patch involving weeks of recriminations, bad poetry and vague references to melancholy. And then the deluge of happy snaps and love pledges a’plenty to confirm that all was suddenly roses again.

My cousin’s is but one of dozens of Facebook soap operas that I’ve become a spectator to.

Social media has created an environment where public confessions are effortless. Be it mild angst or full-blown turmoil, with a couple of key strokes, our entire network can know all about our maladies. For better or much, much worse.

For some, life events – good ones or the hideous – simply aren’t real until they’ve been documented on Facebook. That until all our entire network know, until our pleasure or pain is fully documented, our experiences haven’t been validated. Likewise, apparently an apology is no longer real or sincere until it’s been made publicly and until people we don’t really know can forgive us.

Myself, I’m not comfortable divulging the messier aspects of my life on social media. I rarely divulge my emotional angst to flesh friends, the Facebook ones certainly aren’t getting the juicy bits.

But it’s a generational thing.

I’m 32. I didn’t use the Internet until I was 15. I didn’t see live action pornography until 16 and I didn’t get an email address until I was at uni. For me, social media is a professional tool and not a makeshift confessional booth. But times, they are a changin’.

Stewart’s statement gives us pause for thought about whether this is the direction we want to take our relationships; about whether this is the role we want technology to have in our lives, heads, beds. It reminds us to duly question whether divulging the details our intimate lives compromises or enhances the experience and about whether we want social media to dictate definitions, parameters and veracity of our relationships, apologies and goodbyes.

No, the Stewart/Pattinson debacle – real or fabricated - is of little interest to me.

How it mirrors our relationships with technology and our quest for being seen and living a life apparently worth seeing, is thoroughly fascinating.

Want to write?

Write an article and join a growing community of more than 181,800 academics and researchers from 4,938 institutions.

Register now