Like many people, I cannot say that I have learned to deal with negative emotions properly. My default reaction is to cry, and that often brings me a lot of comfort. But there is a special habit that I have taken-Everytime that I’m crying and my phone is next to me, I’m probably going to take a selfie.
While the snaps I capture of my most vulnerable self remain mostly in my camera roll, a few were posted online, or even used on Tinder, because I found them funny. And I know full well that I’m not the only one doing this. I often see photos and videos of people crying in my feeds, whether posted for comedic purposes or to show genuine sadness. And it questions me–why did we suddenly start documenting our outages, and sometimes went so far as to share them online?
Gen Zers and Millennials are often described as the “”digital generation‘, and rightly so. Much of our lives and identities intersect with the Internet, which we often perceive in the content that others post as a true representation of themselves and the life they live. But in recent years, the way we exist online has changed dramatically.
Screenshot spoke to Christmas Bell, a London-based psychotherapist, who explained that âin times of great social change, there is this thirst for individual authenticityâ. If you try to tie that to the state of social media today, you can see that this âperfect lifeâ illusion that we are used to seeing on our feeds is getting old and boring. Instead, we feel the need to connect with a sense of relativity.
Influencers are now trying to sell authenticity, and platforms like TikTok have served as a complete antidote to the Instagram illusion.–the content often appears much more spontaneous, and therefore much more authentic. And when it comes to documenting raw emotion, what better format than video?
âThere is a lot of debate about it–is new technology changing people’s brains and the way we perceive our sense of limits? Bell continued. This could explain why there is a sudden influx of sadness online, and it’s not just in the form of crying selfies anymore.
On TikTok, for example, there’s a trend where couples post a video of themselves right after a breakup, crying and comforting each other. Another popular format has seen creators share the process of cleaning their rooms after a depressive episode, showcasing the before and after.
In hindsight, this type of content is relevant because these are real situations that everyone goes through–we all cry, we all face grief and difficult conversations, and we can all experience depressive episodes at some point in our lives. But why is it that when some of us experience these things our reaction is to document them?
âIt’s not like they’re looking for links online. They actually want to bond more, âBell explained when asked why people might feel the need to share every little detail of their lives online, including some of the most difficult. The internet may have hampered our sense of limits. Or maybe we’ve managed to de-stigmatize our feelings around difficult situations so much that we almost feel flippant about those experiences.
The truth is, being sad online has become a trend. And there were a lot of benefits to it–for example, many people find comfort in memes surrounding various topics on mental health, in turn creating entire communities around it. Self-mockery has become a coping mechanism for many of us, and the ability to laugh and share our feelings about these issues with others has helped us connect and feel seen. After all, why should we be ashamed of being sad and openly sharing emotion?
Needless to say, some might perceive this type of excessive online sharing as attention seeking or narcissistic. And to some extent, it would be silly to post pictures of our sadness and not expect a response in return. Maybe we want our desperation to be witnessed, or maybe we want to evoke an emotion in others, whether it’s a concern for us or an admiration for the humor and sense of relativity provided. Finally, I know for a fact that some of us really find ourselves more attractive when we cry.
While it’s nice to feel that we can openly share these feelings, it’s also important not to blur the line between the issues of de-stigma and romance surrounding Mental Health and negative emotions. Yes, being comfortable in your vulnerability is beautiful–but also try to practice healthy coping mechanisms. So is online oversharing particularly healthy?
âI really think about it myself. Does this sound narcissistic to you or is it healthy? Does it really break the stigma by sharing more? Bell speculated when asked the same question. “One day I can think yes, maybe, and another day I can think, no I don’t because that breeds loose boundaries, and often loose boundaries are what can really hurt. to people’s self-esteem “, further recognizing the presence of a permanent digital recording that is often left in its wake.
Think about it–how many times have you sent a risky text or posted something you are not sure about? How did that impact how you felt at the time? In many ways, sharing such vulnerable moments online has a similar effect.
When discussing healthy coping mechanisms, it’s also important to consider that it means something different for everyone. What works for you may not work for others, and vice versa. Likewise, not everyone has access to the same resources, which means that for many people, turning to the Internet is a start.
In many ways, Technology and the Internet have helped us de-stigmatize sadness. But it’s also important to pay attention to our limitations and how creating such content can affect us. If you want to digitally document your feelings, fine, but make sure you do. With caution.