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Anna Zawilska

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Is it healthy psychologically to express ourselves emotionally over social media, e.g. in Facebook statuses?

There is sentiment that social media elements such as Facebook statuses are being used by people to get attention and to rant. As a society are we becoming addicted to expressing our smallest irritations over social media? Is it conditioning us into requiring social acknowledgement of our everyday issues? Does it give us a false sense of belonging when we share our feelings to a huge sense of 'friends'? Or are we becoming more emotionally intelligent through this expression? Does it depend on the person?

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    Mar 15 2012: The desperate need of attention brings us to "express" our thoughts and feelings on social networks.For many of us this serves as the only social interraction which is sad.And no we are definitely not becoming more emotionally intelligent,it's the other way around,we are getting weaker and let's say limited if we ended up expressing our feelings(just for attention in many cases) to strangers on internet instead of actually talking to real people.I think we should keep our personal thoughts to ourselves and not share it with everyone,it's the same thing as going in the middle of the street and start "expressing our feelings"by screaming.Nevertheless,social networks are pretty ok as long as we keep a balance and make a difference between our real life and the virtual one.
  • Mar 14 2012: our need for affiliation has made social networking famous. getting in touch with our group members generate happy feelings within us. fb provides an opportunity to stay in touch with friends continuously. slowly we become addicted to fb and try to seek attention of others through catchy status updates. so i think this expressive behaviour is out of compulsion and infact it reduces our emotional intelligence.
    • Mar 15 2012: I think this response summarises the addictive and degrading effects of status-sharing over social media brilliantly!
      • Mar 15 2012: thanks. i only tried to quote my own experience here.
  • Mar 18 2012: I don't think that opinions being spread online accurately reflect someone's authentic sentiments. The reason being, it is easy to speak one's "mind" while hiding behind a wall. There is a more impulsive element to this form of expression, and it can come off as an easy form of conveying an emotion, but on the contrary...it is not the way someone would conduct themselves in person. Due to that reluctance, I would say that emotional expression over social media is not cathartic, in fact perhaps, has a damaging and illusionary quality to it.
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    Mar 18 2012: No. In my opinion, many of the post I have heard about, (I refuse to join), are to me a plea for help. The strong prey on the weak and if you show your weaknesses to the public I will grant you that someone is willing to take advantage of you. People have killed themselves, court cases have occured, jobs have been lost, divorces happened, etc ... Guess I don't understand the value of it. Me I am a people person but I like to look you in the eye, see your body language, note your gestures, hear the tone used, etc... If you like FB then go for it, I'm saying it is not for me. No offense to those who like it. Bob.
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    Mar 16 2012: Facebook, is for child play, therefore, psychologically, it could even be damaging. I would even go as to, all social media are, except TED, just because is purpose is totally human and for the best of our nature. It help to bring the best out of you.
  • Mar 14 2012: I absolutely believe in the value of journaling and sharing your issues, but… publishing those on a social network can have unpredictable/unintended consequences. We’ve all seen private information that has gone viral, not good.

    Most people have a handful of friends they can bare their soul to, and then a whole bunch of “friends” which have various boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.

    Pick up the phone, write a letter, or call them for coffee but don’t use Facebook as therapy.
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    Mar 13 2012: I think it depends on the person.

    I was reading several articles that some people become depressed after reading facebook updates because it makes their lives seem ordinary in comparison to friends who seem to have an exciting update every 5 minutes. What they don't understand is that everyone self-filters on Social Media and most people will only share information that is exciting or presents them in a positive light.

    It can be good to express yourself over Facebook - if you are expressing positive or uplifting thoughts. I love to give a thumbs up to a former High School classmate that just finished her degree or a friend who is posting pictures of their new baby.

    But some people do use Facebook as a kvetch board to complain about every little irritation. I get tired of reading their endless drama and I often wonder how they make it through the day when everything is a cause for complaint.

    I've said before that you can tell who is satisfied with life and who isn't through the tone of their Facebook posts.
    • Mar 13 2012: Yes you are right that there are psychological consequences not only for the poster but also for those reading the post. I think the main issue regarding the poster is the addictive quality of creating the posts but from the viewer's side there are psychological issues because you immediately compare your 'behind-the-scenes' life with the filtered 'stage' life the poster is creating.

      Could you perhaps provide the links to the articles you are referring to? I would really appreciate it!
    • Mar 14 2012: I agree about some people using Facebook as kvetvh board (had to look kvetch up :)

      I wonder how psychologically beneficial it is for these folks when people start de-friending them because they just cannot take it any more.
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    Mar 13 2012: No it is not healthy. Because if you post your rant on my wall or newsfeed I will hunt you down and find you and hurt you myself:) I don't care.

    It's about boundaries. Added plus is that most of my fb friends are relatives and I already know where they live...
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    Mar 12 2012: I believe evidence would suggest that sharing your problems with someone who cares about you is psychological beneficial. I doubt that evidence would similarly support the idea of sharing such matters widely and indiscriminantly. There is an element of theater sometimes in the personae people create of themselves online, a way of trying out being someone they are truly not. While trying out different ways of being can be healthy, doing so with an audience of a size one cannot control, as ones message can in theory be shared with the whole universe, is probably not the safest format and can have irreversible negative effects.
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    Mar 22 2012: Like most things, we can't really have a meaningful conversation about this without introducing some scales of measurement. There are more and less sensitive emotional issues that we might share. There are more and less intense kinds of sharing for our emotions. And, lastly, there are different circles of intimacy with our friends, family, and associates with whom we might share. What is healthy or unhealthy is relative to all three of those dimensions.

    That being said, however, the process of comparing ourselves to larger groups of diverse people has the potential to improve our general socialization rather than hinder it.
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    Mar 21 2012: I guess a big chunk of our humanity includes both emotions and expression. Emotions call for expression. Social media has been a great platform for self expression - something that we're not short of nowadays. But I believe that everything has to be in its proper place to be considered "healthy." Just because you can say anything via social media doesn't mean you have to always do it. Personally, I would rather express my emotions if it would build up others but not if it will cause more trouble. If there's wisdom to it, I don't think there should be any problem. Besides, having a dependable friend around you is way better than talking to a computer.
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    Mar 21 2012: As an educator, I am impressed with how kids always ranted and raved over having a writing assignment.

    Now, because of social media, kids sit hours on end typing away narrative and expository writing.

    It is a wonderful thing to write out your feelings.

    Caution has to be exercised as to who is on the receiving end.

    Personally, I feel that there is a place for everything......

    Here is a quote from a children's book:

    If wisdoms ways you wisely seek,
    Five things observe with care.
    To whom you speak,
    Of whom you speak,
    And how,
    And when,
    And where.

    Be Well............great conversation Anna!!!
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    Mar 21 2012: May I ask
    With whom we want to communicate through Social Media ?
    Are not recipients emotional as well ?

    Well finally it's individual choice.
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    Mar 21 2012: I do express my feelings on Facebook time by time. Usually write things like: Facebook sucks, I recommend www.duckduckgo.com instead of Google ...
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    Mar 13 2012: This is just one of several articles I have seen about the impact of measuring your own life against others 'facebook' life. I'm sure there are others out there - check out more of Psychology Today :

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ethics-everyone/201201/quitting-facebook-could-make-you-happier
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    Mar 13 2012: Social media is a tool and like any tool it's usefulness will be limited primarily by the imagination and resourcefulness of the user. Maturity and judgment are also factors that define how well executed a facebook presence can be. Indiscrimantly connect to strangers and post inane commentary and the result is pretty benign, if not disappointing. Connect (again) indiscriminately to strangers (especially teenagers) and lay bare your soul and probably the result will not be benign if the user is young, impressionable or "at risk". But in the hands of users with the maturity and judgment to use it wisely, social media can be a powerful tool for self-expression and that "expression" must be healthy .
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    Mar 13 2012: Kind of emotional exhibitionism

    Guess the extent depends on who the network is. Close friends or everyone.

    Young ones are so open.

    Perhaps being more open is a good thing is you are too contained.

    Too open without any internal control is a worry too.

    Probably a matter of extremes.

    I deleted. No I deactivated my facebook account for privacy reasons. And time wasting reasons.
  • Mar 13 2012: Perhaps not. It could create a facade or persona so to speak that could potentially be difficult to discard in 'real life' scenarios. Then again some may just consider it an extension of such a scenario...
  • Mar 12 2012: I do find that people appear quite different when viewed through their online personas. I was reflecting on the more old-fashioned form of dealing with everyday frustrations and emotions. Before social media, there was more of a boundary between a person's everyday existance as they appeared in general and the details of what they were experiencing and what they were facing on a more personal level. There are instances where people post a lot of "ranting" statuses that do not receive many comments or much reaction, but they continue to do so. I was wondering if people are being falsely lead into feeling that this type of expression justifies their feelings and they use it as some sort of crutch. I wonder if you disallow social media use for one day, how many people will have difficulty dealing with their frustrations and emotions within the realms of their physical interactions.

    I also tend to think that one thing lacking in broadcasting feelings through social media is tone. Unless the language used is sufficiently descriptive (which commonly it is not), the statuses can become very one-dimensional.
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    Mar 12 2012: It is a great platform to exchange ideas, photographs, videos and experiences. But, it has so many positives and negatives when it comes to expressing oneself emotionally that it is difficult to pin point if it is healthy or not. Many people have benefitted in great ways by expressing themselves to a wide audience as it is often therapeutic. Others have faced bias and bullying because social media allows people to interpret statuses differently and comment negatively. I really enjoy when I hear about the positives of Facebook (http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue4/ellison.html). For me personally, I enjoy status updates, but for dealing with emotions, I rather deal directly with a person and not a computer.
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    Mar 12 2012: I think that the possibility of openness can create benefits.
    Though depending on how your public responds, it could be harmful or beneficial.

    If some or more of your FB friends consistently dis you, just un-friend them.

    Though there is hardly anything better than a physical encounter with peers (family, friends, or others who are to listen to you) and tell about your emotions and listen to theirs.