We’ve all seen it. Open up your Facebook page on any given day and scroll through your news feed and there is it. Complaining. Whining. Griping. Venting about the newest wave in your proverbial pond of life.
We all need to vent, right? If we bottle up our emotions, it can make us sick; both emotionally and physically sick. So we need to get things off our chest. But when is enough enough? When and where is it appropriate?
Let’s address the first question. When is venting healthy and does it ever become unhealthy? Venting is healthy when it is limited to only a few people and only telling the story a few times. Research is showing too much venting actually keeps the negative feelings stirred up and keeps us on edge. There isn’t any resolution if we keep bringing it up and letting it eat away at us. It is just as unhealthy as bottling up our feelings. We’ve all met those people who complain about the same things over and over and we have the deep urge to say to them, “GET OVER IT!”
The second question is when and where venting is appropriate. Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you vent, whether in person or online:
Who will hear it?
Pay very close attention to others who could overhear your venting session. Are you venting to your best friend about your husband or ex-husband who is a dead-beat dad? Pay very close attention to the location of your children. Even little ones can pick up on your conversations and they can certainly pick up on your tone of voice and volume level. It’s best to talk in private. It also puts people who love both of you an in awkward situation. It makes it feel as if they have to take sides, which isn’t fair to ask of them.
Who will read it?
Does your child have access to your Facebook page or are you friends on Facebook? They will most likely see your post. Think about how the post will make them feel or what impression they will have of you for your rant. Are you friends with co-workers? If you’re complaining about your job, it may affect your relationships with your co-workers or word may get back to your supervisors. No one needs more drama at work, so it’s best to keep those thoughts to yourself.
Remember, it’s the world wide web.
What you type floats around out there forever. And ever. And EVER. There is no permanent delete button.
Even people you aren’t “friends” with may see it.
How many times have you looked at a friend’s phone when their Facebook page was pulled up and looked at other peoples’ pictures or status updates? If you aren’t Facebook friends with anyone from work and you blast your boss thinking you’re safe, think again. It is a very small, connected world. Your boss may not read it, but his sister or wife might.
Employers are using Facebook to screen job applicants.
We can tell a great deal about people by what they post on Facebook. If a potential employer does a search for you using his Facebook page and your profile picture is of you at a bar with your tongue in someone’s mouth, that boss may think twice about hiring you. That same interconnected world mentioned in #4 above can also be used by employers. So, if you’re venting about your current job and the administration and the potential administration happens upon it because your cousin works there, it may move your application to the bottom of the pile.
Stop and think about whether or not it’s a big enough deal to let the entire Facebook nation know about it.
If you have 500 friends, do you really want all 500 of them to know about how you blew your top at the women in the parking lot who cut you off or the man at work who you think is lazy? We get really judgmental when we are behind a computer screen because it’s safe and easy. Many people did it during the recent election. We assume we have the full-story and make judgments about people. “Well, if she cussed the woman out in the parking lot, she must really be a hot-head.” Or, “If he’s such a bad guy, why did you marry him and have a kid with him to begin with?”
How many times have you vented about the same thing?
Often we vent because we’re looking for validation. We want to know someone understands us and supports us and is on our side. If you’ve vented about the same issue 5 times to 5 different people and still feel the need for validation, there is more going on here than you simply being frustrated.
Stop venting and do something to fix it.
If you’ve vented and vented and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, stop venting and start putting that energy toward doing something about it. If you can’t seem to get past the hurt, consider talking with a professional counselor about what is upsetting you. There are some things in life that are so upsetting that it takes more than venting to move beyond them. Those areas of life may require an outsider’s perspective-someone who can see things in a different light and offer ideas on how to help you move forward.