Venting Online May Have Therapeutic Value

The internet provides us with a wealth of information at our fingertips, and it also offers a forum where we can instantly vent and complain about anything that annoys us. Anyone can start a blog, and forums and social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide platforms that are ripe for sharing frustrations.

According to a Washington Post article, online venting is helpful because it offers a sense of validation. It quotes University of Washington psychologist as saying that we enjoy the feeling that others are upset by the same things that upset us. Sharing complaints, and potentially getting feedback from others that backs us up, gives us a sense of camaraderie.

Beware the Drawbacks

Counselor Michelle Wade says in an American Counseling Society blog post that venting online has some potential drawbacks, too, like providing a forum for self indulgence that can turn unhealthy. However, she points out that counselors may find that encouraging clients to use social media as an appropriate venting forum may be helpful.

Once you post something on social media or an online forum, you can't easily remove it if you change your mind. Even if you delete it, it's likely backed up or cached somewhere, and someone may have a screen capture. The immediate gratification of online venting might be outweighed by the potential long term effects of having it publicly available.

An Old School Alternative

If you want to vent in a safe environment, old-fashioned pen and paper offer a much more private alternative.You can use various writing exercises to work through distressing issues, make sense of negative emotions, increase your optimism, or decide on a course of action. If you write in a traditional paper journal, you can easily hide it. If you journal online via a word processing program, save the file on removable media to ensure that other family members don't run across your private musings.