Like It Or Lump It: Discussing Your Life on the Internet
I was 17 when I first opened up about the various issues going on in my life in a public forum. I remember getting some hateful comments, but the majority of people were supportive. Fast forward almost 10 years, and it almost seems like the tables have turned. As our lives are shared more and more, outsiders begin to feel the need to critique the goings on in our lives. By having blogs, twitter accounts, etc., we do technically open ourselves up to the criticism. We don't, however, open ourselves up to hateful remarks, ignorance, etc.
I have seen people send rude comments to their "friends" because the friend has a chronic illness, a significant other that sometimes annoys them, a child that is not absolutely perfect, a parent who offends them, a doctor who disagrees, and various other situations. These invisible friends will all of a sudden have the perfect solution to the person's problems: just don't talk about them. When these friends say this, they mean that they no longer wish to hear about the goings on in a person's life unless they are predominantly happy. Who among us can guarantee a 95% or higher happiness rating for their lives?
If the person comments that their accounts or blogs are their forum to discuss their personal issues, then the invisible friend will sometimes recommend that they just get rid of that forum. This seems to be the opposite of what should be happening.
It is understandable that the negativity coming from another person might be considered rude or annoying, but it is possible that these statements are a form of writing/expressive therapy. Expressing issues through words is believed by some to help ease a person's emotional stress and possibly help them with their physical health. While the therapy is normally administered by a therapist at a distance, some people will begin taking the initiative to explore their life and their struggles on their own.
Though discussing traumas ad nauseum typically is an indicator of a traumatized person, discussing their problems does not actually cause that person to be more traumatized. Writing the problems down instead helps to prevent a cycle of self-destructive behaviors or depressive/obsessive issues related to the problems. The anonymity of the internet allows a person to use their words, blogs, and accounts as their therapist. Their keyboards become their couch or comfy chair. James Pennebaker studied the effects of writing therapy after noticing that criminals have a slower heart rate and breathing after they confess to their crimes. The immune system is also improved by writing about the problems, since the body has more active T-lymphocyte cells after relieving stress through writing. Writing can even help with issues like rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Lives can greatly improve if a person is given an opportunity to explore their emotions.
So, if a person's health and life can improve by writing about their problems, why would someone who calls herself (or himself) a friend want that person to give up this valuable tool? Forcing a person to bottle up their emotions and not take a more proactive role in improving their life and their health seems to be antithetical to the role that a true friend would have. If your friend has cancer or Sjögren's or lupus or depression or an inconsiderate friend or family member or if they're just having a bad day, why not allow them to express their pains, frustrations, and anxieties?
If the problems are too much for you to handle, then why not take a step back from that person? Changing how another person copes with their own life is not up to you. The only person that you can truly control in any way, shape, or form is yourself. If you need shiny, happy people, then find sources of entertainment or distraction that can fit your needs, and don't try to reshape someone else's life and behaviors.