So, there’s this misunderstanding about mental health where we think that “getting it out of our system” with a huge outburst is something that is healthy.
For example, screaming in the woods, punching pillows or saying a cuss word. We think these outbursts make us feel better, but what really happens is that we “train” our minds and bodies to become angrier and it becomes this cycle where we don’t find catharsis.
Think about that one person in your life who wronged you…you can never run out of things to complain about with them.
Examples of this is in studies that have shown that if you cuss at someone you’re mad at, it makes you angrier - you don’t give yourself a chance to jump off this emotion as it’s slowly rising.
This has been something that’s been studied for decades now, starting with a study from 1999 that discovered that punching a pillow after experiencing an anger trigger makes the subject more likely to commit aggressive, vindictive behavior. “Punching a pillow” doesn’t make the anger go away, it makes more anger come in.
So, how does this translate to Byte and the Vent page?
I think the word “Vent” can have cathartic implications, but also it can have aggressive connotations. A “vent” can be talking out your feelings with your friends, but it can also be a shout in anger, a long ramble, a passive-aggressive snear.
And, if you follow me on my logic here, “vent” is a verb, and a verb is an action and our actions dictate our feelings (You cuss, you feel angier. You punch a pillow, you feel more aggressives) and so if you create a platform dedicated to “venting,” people will perform that verb and it will create an aggressive environment.
Basically, if you segregate a space that’s implied to be for outbursts of negative feelings, it can create this little pocket of anger that is difficult to get out of both on an individual level and on a group level. In a group sense, emotions have to tendency to amplify in social media. You put one feeling into a social media platform, and it has a tendency to bounce off the walls for a long time, like an echo in a long hallway.
In terms of stakes, I don’t think this is something that will undermine the entire platform or any doom or gloom thing like that, but I do worry about the fact that we do have a lot of kids on here now and am a little worried about their individual experience. I can picture some stressed-out kid with a troubled home life just venting and venting and venting and it becomes a never ending cycle and not really finding a release. It could be a pillow that’s always there to punch.
And I think there’s a great opportunity here to let that kid/community express dissatisfaction in a way that is productive, restorative and healing for the user.
I think that this is an issue that is really, really easy to manage and just is an matter of a very, very simple word replacement.
A lot of the Byte categories is based around “Verbs” and I think this is a matter of if you change the verb, you change the action- and changing it into something honestly really great, and a productive form of release for the community.
I think if we change Vent to something like “Decompress” or “Talk About It” or “Unwind” or “Express Feelings” - I think it would serve the original intent of “Vent” but also give negative emotions a lot more room to walk around and be comfortable with themselves.
I feel really strongly about this and would love if ya’ll took it into consideration and wouldn’t mind hearing other Byter’s thoughts on the matter.