How to Recognise the Signs of Venting

It seems you can’t switch on commercial TV without seeing an advertisement discussing the signs of ageing.

Stuff the signs of ageing! They’re written all over our face for everyone to see.

I’m more interested in the ‘signs of venting’, which are more difficult to recognise and which can lead you into trouble.

So, what do I mean by social media venting? It can take the form of:

  • Complaining online about your employer, colleagues or customers
  • Complaining (or arguing with) your family online, from partners through to children through to parents
  • Prolonged sharing of complaints about your personal health / the weather / the neighbours / what’s on television and so on

Some venting is fun. That’s why we get positive responses. The “I secretly want to smack slow-moving people in the back of the head” Facebook pages aren’t immensely popular for nothing. And if you tweet about wanting to stay in bed rather than head to work on a rainy day, you’ll get plenty of empathy.

But venting – particularly about your work – can occasionally lead to serious repercussions. We’ve seen people being fired over Facebook posts,  tweets being critiqued in the next day’s newspaper, friendships and relationships crushed and more.

If repercussions don’t bother you and you cherish your venting powers, of course feel free to continue on your cathartic journey. But if you’d like to be aware of The Signs of Venting, here are some:

a)      You’re posting while angry.

b)      You’re posting  immediately after a break up.

c)       You’re posting immediately after working with a grumpy customer or client.

d)      You’re using social media to raise something you’re too afraid to discuss offline.

e)      You do All of the Above, often.

So why do people vent online?  Is it because:

  • Social media is easy to use and often readily available, via our phones or the laptops right front of us? The screen is our accessible, anonymous Agony Aunt.
  • Social media can become a diary of woes and, combined with a gaggle of sympathetic friends who are ready to listen, venting is often quickly rewarded.
  • Online venting feels somehow disconnected from ‘the real world’, as if there will be no repercussions.
  • Many social media users simply aren’t aware of their account settings and the extent to which their posts can be found and  shared.

Venting. Get it? Terrible play on words ...
Venting. Get it? Terrible play on words ...

If you’d like to stop venting and think things are getting dangerous, here are some tips:

  • When you’re feeling angry or frustrated, Do Not Go Online
  • Try to think of other ways to share your feelings: whether it be a chat with a friend or colleague, a phone call or even an email (remembering that they may be published or shared  with ‘the wrong audience’ too)
  • If writing makes you feel better and  helps you unload, consider keeping a good old fashioned diary – you don’t need to share everything you’re going through with your social networking friends
  • Don’t post about it, sleep on it
  • Ask yourself why you’re venting online. Is there another outlet besides social media, or your socmedia friends, that can help relieve your stress? Does your life need some major changes?

Do you have any anti-venting tips to share?

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Ash Simmonds says:

    There’s some psych studies into “releasing” anger, trying to discern whether the popularly held belief that “venting” is actually cathartic and healthy.

    The posit is that it’s simply correlation bias whereby we associate a voilent/negative action with the dissipation of anger, but that anger would have dissipated without taking action anyway.

    When you “vent” your anger at something, you actually build it indefinitely. Eg say someone does you a disservice – if you do nothing, you’ll eventually get over it and not care; if you complain to people, you’ll have to form a much more negative opinion to justify your action – ie “I wouldn’t complain about someone/something unless they/it were really bad”.

    Prepare for science, bitches! One study was where a teacher deliberately abused students, when the students were given the opportunity to report the teacher and presumably get him in trouble, they more or less hated him forever, whereas the ones who weren’t able to complain to anyone, later just thought of him as disagreeable, but held no malice and it never bothered them apart from initial stewing. So, the people who able to bitch and moan ended up bitter about it, whereas those who couldn’t ended up blasé.

    Note what this means for social media, think of that study example and see how it applies to all the drama caused and how it perpetuates… The takeaway – try not to bitch even if wronged, you’ll be happier for it and you simply won’t care about that person/service.

    I myself don’t get riled up easily, and when I do, the negativity goes away pretty quickly and I’m back on even keel. However I know some people who experience a petty thing, and it just grinds at them for days/weeks, and they talk about how satisfied they were that they actually did something, whereas I don’t see the point – but it was kinda cathartic to vent for them.

    However, kind of proving the above study – those people tend to hold negative views in their active thoughts for a long time about someone/something, whereas for me I find they just no longer matter to me anymore pretty quickly.

    So, cathartic? Yes. Helpful? Not for long-term mental health.


    1. Prakky says:

      Thanks Ash, that’s really interesting and takes this to another level: does venting actually “work” for your personal health and attitudes?

      Like you, I don’t see a great benefit in venting online and if I’m ever bothered by online comments my attitude is to let them slide and devote zero energy to them.

      1. Ash Simmonds says:

        No, it doesn’t.

        The key lies in the self-justification, if you voice an opinion about something, you have to back it up – which becomes a self-fulfilling-prophecy of strengthening that opinion.

        Your cognitive dissonance won’t allow you to align your opinion as anything but reputable, so you’ll have the inclination to either over-inflate the percieved flaw, find additional flaws, or misrepresent them a la Straw Man attack.

        We’ve all done it, it’s colloquially known as making mountains out of molehills.

  2. Ali Smith says:

    Guilty. And now I feel ashamed about it :/

    1. Prakky says:

      Don’t feel ashamed Ali! As I said, sometimes it works .. just think of potential negative repercussions.

  3. “Venting” is going into our social media policy. For sure. Nice post.

    1. Prakky says:

      Thanks Richard – good call.

  4. Ash Simmonds says:

    Developing story: my little bro just got fired for slandering his employer on Facebook!

  5. The addition of alcohol to your sources of venting magnify the effect dramatically.

    1. Prakky says:

      Agree, Colin! The added, dangerous ingredient.

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