In an article today on CNN.com, Dean Obeidallah discusses the shift of sharing the minutiae of daily life online to using social media as surrogate therapy. He notes that just this past week, kidnapping victim, Hannah Anderson, took to the net to answer some very specific questions about what happened to her. For someone who just experienced a very traumatic event, seeking solace or validation from strangers might seem a bit odd to some people. But the internet and the level of information we share online has changed in the past few years. This is no longer an uncommon practice. Dean then goes on to list several other instances where people have seemingly overshared online. From tweeting from a dying mother’s bedside to posting a cancer diagnosis, have we gone too far with letting mere strangers into our most intimate life events? Dean doesn’t think so, and neither do I.
Is it true that social media is a cheap form of group therapy?
I tend to think so. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.
As long as you are comfortable with what you share, I don’t see anything wrong with turning to an outlet like Twitter or Facebook to find some support or validation from others. In our busy and hectic lives, a lot of people don’t have many avenues for support. It’s unfortunate, yes, but I happen to feel like one of those people quite often myself. I have reached out, albeit delicately, to my social network when I’m seeking support. And much to my surprise, I’ve received quite a bit of it from people I’ve never met in real life. We’ve truly evolved to a global village.
But where do you draw the line with what you share online?
I feel that it all depends on your own comfort level. Sometimes I feel that I cross that boundary of what is too personal and for me and editing is my savior. If you are an emotional writer or if you react quickly to situations, I urge you to write, edit, edit again and then consider posting. As I have learned lately, Google never forgets. While the Great and Powerful Google Cache saved my booty when I lost 80% of my blog content, it also got me thinking about the fact that what you put online is always there. What you put out in social media and on the web is forever captured as a snapshot in time. You must always bear that in mind.
So, what do you think? Is social media (and blogging) a form of cheap group therapy? Do you censor your thoughts for a public forum or do you just throw it all out there online?