By: Chris Warren
Twenty First Summer was conceived in part out of my disgust with social media. Somewhat hypocritically, this blog does have a Twitter account that I hope all my readers follow @twentyfirstsum because it’s an unfortunate necessity for reader interaction. Yet even while I’ve happily been able to keep social media at the edges of my life, there are others, actually many others, who have turned it into their psychologist.
Here’s the kicker: I’m sort of thinking this may not be such a bad idea. Not for me of course, for them. I know that sounds a little way out there coming from a guy who has made mocking the stupid that is Facebook a recurring theme, but venting is a legitimate form of therapy. Just because it’s not done under the supervision of a $150/hour therapist doesn’t mean it’s not effective treatment.
In between the the ubiquitous cute puppy videos and trite “post this on your wall if you love someone with (insert name of unfortunate malady here)” memes, are things along the lines of rants about the weather, the boss, significant other, job loss, divorces, death, gastrointestinal issues, traffic jams, kids. All the turds of life are well represented.
The appearance of “too much information” personal issues may be shocking, but the reasoning behind them is legitimate. The on line catharsis provides a release that in another time would have been taken out on family members, coworkers, store clerks, or held inside until it could be contained no longer. For all its ridiculous vanity, Facebook at the very least gives users a platform to clear their frustrations in a relatively harmless, nonviolent way.
I very seldom post anything on my personal Facebook page but I will scroll through my newsfeed fairly regularly to lurk around and see what others are doing. My feed probably looks like everyone else’s except with different names. What takes me aback is the amazingly revealing public comments made by people I consider to rational, mature, and level-headed, at least when they are not on line.
Since screaming into a pillow is overrated, Facebook therapy works only when the rants are made when others will hear (or see) them. Part of me thinks these people are a bit kooky even though I otherwise respect them and understand why they have these outbursts. The problem: How do I respond? Should I respond? When I say I “very seldom” make a Facebook post I mean maybe two or three times a year, so clicking “like” or making a comment opens the door to an on line back and forth I’d rather not get involved with.
I’d prefer my friends just call me if they have something heavy on their mind. If they’d rather blow digital steam, I’ll be listening there too even though I probably won’t reply. If it gives them a comfortable outlet they might not otherwise have for their frustrations, then why should I hate on that? I still think Facebook is one of the most hopeless wastes of bandwidth since the Kim Kardashian YouTube channel, but even a pile of crap is useful as fertilizer.