Pet Peeve #41: TMI

I really enjoy open and vulnerable conversation. To me, there are no limits on conversation topics unless they start to make someone uncomfortable.

I’m very aware of the latter–I truly don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or offend anyone. Every once in a while I encounter a conversationalist who will seem to intentionally push people’s buttons, not for the sake of deeper or more fun conversation, but just for the sake of getting a reaction out of people. That’s not cool.

Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum–people who cut a conversation short by saying “TMI” (Too Much Information). I most often see this in online conversations, but it happens in real life too.

I get the feeling that 9 out of 10 times when someone says TMI, it’s not that they’re uncomfortable, it’s that they want to be the one to take the “higher ground” in the conversation. It’s a power play–not a big one, but a subtle one. Because really, especially in Facebook or blog comments, if you truly feel like people are oversharing, you’d just walk away from the conversation. You wouldn’t say anything.

If you’re a person who says “TMI,” think about why you say it. Are you trying to make the conversation better? If not, don’t say it.

I wish people said “TLI” more often (or ever). Too Little Information. It says, “Yes, I know this is a little weird that we’re talking about belly button lint, but since we’re here, let’s do this topic justice. Anything goes. Tell me more.”

Are a TMI or a TLI person?

7 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #41: TMI”

  1. I am definitely an LMI person as my conversations always deteriorate into talking about taboo things like bodily functions, medical studd and even private stuff. I am probably one of the first to take it too far but I think I have a pretty goo gauge I’d that in doing so I am going to make someone uncomfortable and I certainly don’t do so to make others uncomfortable purposefully or to push buttons. However, I also say TMI often too in such situations but not as a way to get an upper hand or stand on some higher ground of couthfullness, but more to acknowledge my own revelations or my part in getting others to reveal more than is probably appropriate. I say it in a joking/laughing way to acknowledge that everyone participating in the conversation has gone there and it’s funny but more importantly, okay that we are all in TMI land together.

    • Carrie–That’s a really good point about using TMI on yourself, almost in a deflecting kind of way. By saying that, you let people know that you understand that you’re going beyond the social norms of conversation. It’s more of an invitation for people to join you in TMI land than a dismissal of TMI topics. I like it!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever actually said TMI in a conversation, but I’m probably one of those people who just over shares and goes into too much detail in conversations/stories. The bad part is I know I’m over sharing, but can’t seem to stop myself. Most of the time, I try to not go past the line of what is “appropriate,” but I know certain people have some things that will instantly incite some lively discussion/debate, and I have been guilty of going there just to have something to talk about (usually at work when nothing else is happening).

    • Well, as you can tell from my post, I really don’t think it’s something to feel guilty about. Oversharing is really just sharing, and sharing is a good thing, right?

  3. Oh, my goodness. Now I’m going to have some weird dream after seeing that picture. It’s going to be all about Too Much Information.


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