Saturday, September 2, 2017


How do you feel about using 'shared' when one person seems to be telling, explaining, describing, or otherwise, speaking to another?

Some copyeditors replied:

I recently copyedited a book that was based on research and interviews the author had done with members of a church in Southern California (sociology of religion is the academic disciple, and this was for a large, well-known scholarly publisher). Nobody spoke, everybody shared -- whenever the author reported something she was told during an interview, she'd write something like "John shared that he enjoyed coming to the church's Sunday service" (or, worse, "John shared how he enjoyed coming to the church's Sunday service"). I got rid of every single one of them, and I haven't heard any complaints. (Mary)

In addition to the therapy setting, I'd also use the term to describe sharing intimate personal information with a trusted friend. And, of course, a sarcastic comment when someone says something you really don't want to hear. For instance, someone describes a recent bowel movement while we are eating lunch: I might say "Thank you for sharing."
In any case, I'd watch for overuse of the term. "Said" is a good word, use it often. (Allen)

Its use in classrooms to embarrass whisperers ("Bobby, why don't you share that with the class?") long predates its use in psychobabble; but it seems to have an edge to it in either situation. That is, when someone says "please share that with the group," I think it comes across as a bit more prying than "please tell us what you're feeling," for example. In the other direction, "I'd like to share something with you" sets the listener up to hear a confidence rather than just an interesting story. (Dick)

It is also used in informal, community-oriented Christian (specifically Mennonite in my experience) church services for the time when members can stand up and talk about what's on their minds. "Sharing time" takes on almost epic significance in some of my siblings' and my memories of attending church at my parents' small-town Kansas Mennonite church... It probably morphed over from the psychobabble of the 1970s, when the informal worship took hold among, at least, Mennonites. But "sharing time" is alive and well in the twenty-first century. (Andrea)

It has its uses, as others have pointed out, and I agree that the word is used appropriately in most of them... But I also think that sometimes, it can sound artificially... well, sissified. Touchy-feely. Hyper-euphemistic. Palliated. I picture a Donna Reed-like woman among her plastic-encased living room furniture and spotless carpet, pristinely playing hostess, to not only make her guests feel comfortable but put her niceness and perfection on display, a niceness that is exoterically and for all intents admirable... Even so, or perhaps because of it, somehow one suspects there's a bit of mildew in the under-layer.

Whenever possible, I'd prefer having a person tell, explain, describe, relate, confess, disclose, declare, reveal, offer, paint, reflect upon, reminisce or whatever else they might do to communicate their experience. "Share" is dangerously close to being overused. (Fox)

I have edited several doctoral dissertations where shared seemed to be the only verb the authors knew. Although it may be appropriate occasionally, for the most part, it sounds extremely artificial and I change it. (Nancy)

My feeling is that I hate it and it's not used only in counseling-therapy situations. I hear it a lot in schools, especially elementary schools. My disdain for the usage might have something to do with my kids' elementary school where everyone was a nice person who truly meant well, but they went overboard in fostering every shred of self-esteem to the point of ineffectiveness (I have pieces of paper here officially praising my kids for, among other things, returning the ball to the box after recess instead of leaving it on the playground -- we keep them for the comedy they provide and so my kids can complain that they were never rewarded for not breaking windows or not stealing cars). Unlike Dick, I'd never thought of it as prying, just cloying. When I hear it I can't help but picture a sarcastic TV skit like one would see on Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show. I can just hear Samantha Bee asking a senator if she would feel better if she shared with the public her predilection for pole dancing at Flash Dancers on her days off. (Donna)

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