December 10, 2016

Asking ‘what’s wrong?’ and expecting an answer

If the meaning behind the expression ‘curiosity killed the cat’ were true, and if I were a cat, I would have died a long time ago. I like surprises, but not secrets. If I had it my way, there would be no such thing as ‘on a need-to-know basis’— everyone involved would have that consideration. When my peers are so quick to share their woes, often indirectly, on social media, it’s hard to pocket the question these statuses seem to crave: What’s wrong?

Before I utter the question in person or online, a red exclamation point flashes in my brain like a virus warning, suggesting my curiosity could-maybe-possibly-perhaps-perchance be taken for that hideous characteristic­— nosiness. Me, nosey?

I don’t always expect a long drawn out explanation, but I do expect more than a nails-on-chalkboard ‘nothing’ if something is clearly wrong. ‘Nothing’ responses seem to take two tones: 1) a genuine “I don’t want to talk about it,” or 2) a defensive “mind your own business.”

There are plenty of phrases that will suffice instead. There’s your “I can’t talk about it,” and in that case I suspect I might not actually want to know anyway. Sometimes people will say “I don’t want to talk about it” reaction, in which I know you do, but I’m obviously not the right person. I can respect that. Another popular response is “I have a case of the Mondays.” Honey, don’t we all! Allow me to commiserate with you!

But here’s the thing: if you’re sad or have a grouchy case of the Mondays on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and so on, I’m going to expect some kind of explanation. Otherwise, check your attitude at the door. I can’t be understanding if I don’t even know what needs to be understood.

People who don’t even want to allude to their problems have always fascinated me. We’re not in high school anymore. The majority of people aren’t going to go off running with your explanations like they’ve just found a golden gossip ticket. Gossip and assumptions thrive when people keep everything to themselves. I don’t condone the former, but assumptions are natural.

Our peers may not be licensed professionals, but there is plenty of information out there to support the fact that talking helps. Reachout.com writes that “talking to someone might sound like a simplistic solution but it really is one of the best possible things you/they can do.”

Their post-entitled “Benefits of talking to someone,” states that verbally communicating will help you sort through your feelings, put them in perspective and give you some release.

Some people — myself included — are much more comfortable with expressing themselves with the written word. So, when I sign onto Facebook and the empty status bar reads, ‘What’s on your mind?’ the temptation to answer its question is quite alluring.

Urbandictionary.com defines Facebook Therapy as “when a person uses their Facebook status to vent their frustrations. This is similar to a therapy session with a Psychiatrist.”

Psychology Today published an article in 2011 called “Top Five Therapeutic Effects of Facebook.” According to the article, the therapeutic effects of venting on Facebook include a case for healing, a shot of self-esteem, a way to purge, an opportunity to connect and a moment of closure. I could speak for all of these, though I think there is a right and wrong way to feed your feelings to social media.

Vague statements or sad lyrics without context are incredibly vexing. Sure, your good friends will text you to make sure you’re all right, but how many of your Facebook friends actually fall under that category?

Instead, make use of the ‘what are you doing?’ status option to express the emotion you are feeling and actually give an indication as to why you feel this way. When people can relate, they will sympathize, commiserate, or, in the least, listen — all of which could be therapeutic for you and maybe even them.

Lastly, Facebook is the perfect way to update your followers, peers and friends alike, on major life updates. Why hide a change in your relationship status when allowing it to show up on your News Feed is likely to bring a flood of support? The same can be said for happy life events. Boast a bit and allow the ‘likes’ to pour in.

So many of life’s conflicts fall back on phrases society considers cliché, but I think they are such for a reason — they hold true. Help others help you. Consider the words of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, “He who sees a need and waits to be asked for help is as unkind as if he had refused it.”

 

 

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