I’ve noticed something lately.

I’ve noticed that people seem to have forgotten how to properly vent.

To Vent means to give free expression to a strong emotion and here’s what I’ve noticed. We have these things called cell phones. Yes, on occasion I see people talking on them but I think many of us use them for texting (because what if we call someone and god forbid they actually pick up the phone, then what?), listening to podcasts, taking selfies (guilty!) and let us not forget, to update or lurk on social media. This is all connected so stay with me. It seems like people would rather put up a scathing comment on Facebook about another driver, their waiter from last night, the person at the grocery store, the guy at the United counter, and yes, even arguments with family and they think they’re venting.

Someone feels wronged, assaulted, annoyed, accused, slighted, offended…blah blah blah and then what do they do? They tell everyone else about it on Facebook or Twitter. And they do this, I guess to vent but really what I think they’re doing is complaining. Now, am I saying that you can never post on Facebook about how upset you are? No. Am I saying you shouldn’t share if you’re sad? No. I’m just wondering if you could CALL SOMEBODY and vent to them. Not, because I’m tired of hearing it but because I think you might feel better. I’ve done this a few times lately. I had a real bee in my bonnet so I called a friend and said, “Do you have a minute? I just need to vent.” I’m sure a few of you are wondering, “Why didn’t she call me?” but don’t get lost in the weeds on this one. Once I’d vented, guess what I did? I MOVED ON. Why? Because I felt heard, seen and even if I was totally full of crap, I felt like the person on the other line cared. And that’s sometimes what it takes to move on; to feel heard, to feel seen, to feel cared for. I don’t think posting on social media about crappy restaurant service makes you feel seen or heard. I think it makes you feel right. Which might be why we choose to sing to the choir.

Every once in awhile, we’ll go out to eat and the service is crap. And I mean, crap. But do I need to post on Facebook about it? Not only the restaurant name but a description of the server? No. That’s so McCarthyist in my opinion. The last time it happened, I emailed the manager, explained what happened, didn’t even mention the server’s name, and when offered a free meal for the next time I came in, I politely declined. I didn’t comment on my experience to get something free. I commented so that the manager would know that the front of the house needed a little work. You see, I grew up in a family restaurant. Mistakes happen and not everyone is meant to wait tables. It’s very hard work.

Here it is in a nutshell. Do whatever you want. But think before you speak and before you post. Have a complaint? Don’t blackball someone or some place. See if you can have a constructive conversation with someone that can actually do something about it. Need to share your feelings, feel mad or sad or wronged? Pick up the phone and say, “Do you have a minute?”. Many adults complain about “kids these days” and social media and how kids don’t know how to talk to each other anymore. I’m not so sure us grownups do either. Our tolerance for difference of opinion or understanding of a desired outcome seems really low. We’ve gotten kind of mean. We don’t talk. We react. We don’t empathize. We blame. We don’t really vent. We mostly just complain.