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.
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?