Are We Becoming a Society of “Text Therapy”?

By Mark A. Leon

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition” – Graham Greene

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” – Hubert H. Humphrey

What is “Text Therapy”?

If you search the truth (aka Urban Dictionary) you will find several self-imposed definitions of the growing phenomenon in our social sphere. Some view it as the consolidation of emotions into a small phrase on Twitter, Facebook or text to a discriminate or non-discriminate audience. The thought of pouring your emotions to faceless millions does sound appealing to some and almost crazy to others.

In a time where social courage is running rampant, it is no surprise that this is a growing trend. We can meet and reject dates without ever meeting them in person via dating sites, dismiss a friendship with one click, share a new relationship to a global community without making one call or expressing sorrow over the loss of a loved one to the masses. Voices are silenced but never have they been so loud.

When was it acceptable to extend the arm of vulnerability in one hundred and forty characters? Is the first thought on our minds after a divorce or break up to tell anyone in front of a computer or smartphone that will listen that it is over, I am a free person and he/she does not know what they are missing? Are we looking for a reaction from the audience that clearly, by being a friend, paid admission to witness this comment? Does the immediacy of the reactions lend a higher weight to how valued you are by your social community? Are we so in need of virtual and immediate comfort that we don’t even take the time to let the situation sink in and accept the normal course of reaction time?

All valid questions that require a much deeper evaluation of the individuals participating in this ritualistic trend. But, if this piece exceeds 800 words, we will lose the core audience and thus eliminate any value that could be served.

I would like to shift gears away from the non-discriminate form of emotional up chuck and move to a targeted approach and what I believe is “Text Therapy”. Using the small sample size of my circle of friends, I have in the past been a shoulder of comfort to some creating the grand illusion of an open ear and voice of rational thought. The acceptance of friends coming to me for advice and consultation is not new in my world. What I have begun to bear witness is the exceedingly increasing use of text therapy sessions where I would receive a long text indicating depression, fear, anxiety, loneliness, heartache and trauma.

My first reaction is to offer phone time as these are not local friends, but rarely is the offer accepted. Without the ability to give a true and sensible response via text, I offer comfort through only a few simple words. Then a few more texts may ensue or silence. I will follow up and often times I get a “I feel a little better” or “I’m ok” but no clear sign of recovery from the drama that began with the first text.

Can this free and immediate consolidated therapy provide any long term help for the distressed. I am not a doctor, but my analysis is no. I sense that the social revolution has not only brought the world closer together but created a “right now” mentality that has corrupted our ability to feel.

I vividly remember the Challenger Disaster, September 11, 2001 and the announcement of the Death of Osama Bin Laden. The first two still leave vivid details in my memory box and lingering emotions for days and years. Bin Laden was very different. First, I found out 30 minutes before the President made the announcement as it was leaked out through various channels and within 5 minutes after the announcement, the bar did a round of free shots, some continued talking about what had transpired, but most of us moved on other subjects of sports, school, dating and life. We have almost turned ourselves into drones who are incapable of feeling for a long period of time.

That is a scary thought. The ability to feel and connect is what makes us human and thus the most intelligent beings on this planet. If we lose that, we are robots, void of emotion and void of feelings of love and compassion.

Let that sink in next time you reach out and request your next immediate text therapy session.

PS – 785 Words

What Kind of Charleston Friend Are You? Let’s Find Out

Friends1A few of you are beginning to read this while posing the question in your head, “Are there really different types of Charleston friends and beyond? There are a remarkable number of friend categories and consciously or sub-consciously, most of us fit into one of these bucket. Let us take a few moments to describe each of the friend types and see where you fall.? This is an eye opening exercise.? Some will laugh, some will roll their eyes, but we will all agree we know “That Friend” and most of us will say we are “That Friend”.

Friend Categories:

  • Text Friend – This is the friend that consistently “text message” communicates with you.? Whether it is just to say hi, a deep emotional exchange or a bored conversation exchange, this person chooses text over any other form of communication.? When you call them, they will not answer, but rest assured, you will get a text back very quickly saying “What’s up”.? This person will spend time with you in reality, but it is few and far between.? You need unlimited texting and a lot of extra time to meet the needs of the text friends.
  • Facebook Friend – The Facebook friend is very similar to the text friend, but much more visual.? They provide more visual aides around their life including video and pictures of their daily escapades.? You most likely will only be included in these pictures on big group special events.? If you are lucky, they may also include you in Vine, Instagram and SnapChat.? You could get a little overwhelmed in the social world with this friend.? This individual will also “like” and “comment” often on your page.
  • Respectful Friend – The respectful friend is one of the worst kind.? Whenever you call, text or message, they will always respond to you quickly.? They are genuinely nice people, but they always put the catalyst on you.? This person will never initiate a conversation or try to make plans with you.? Any time you want to talk or hang out, you have to contact them first.? This can get frustrating at times because the relationship can feel very one-sided.
  • Social Friend – This friend is always on the go.? If there is an event, festival, happy hour, concert or flash mob, you will most likely see them there are very nearby.? This person will send a mass text invite or online invite to come and party.? One thing to know about the social friend:? They do not have a concept of calendars or planning.? Most of their outreach is very last minute.? Be prepared to jump in your car or hop on your bike at the last minute to spend time with this friend.
  • Clingy Friend – The clingy friend does not have a lot of close friends to call their own and many do not have busy professional and social lives.? They cling onto anyone that gives them much needed attention.? They are very flexible and accommodating as they don’t want to risk losing you, so they will do whatever you want to do and compromise their own interests.? They thrive around others and do not do well alone.? These friends require patience, because often times you have to push back on them for your own needs.
  • Emotional Rock – Most people have only only one or two friends that fall into this category.? This is the go to person during confusing or difficult emotional times.? If you have a bad break up, learn of an unexpected death or have an unsettling feeling, this friend will drop everything and meet you at the bar at midnight to talk to you and listen.? They never judge no matter how neurotic or irrational you get.? They are a vital part of your life and should never be taken for granted.
  • BFF – The BFF is the cool friend.? You rarely go a full day without talking.? The BFF will go to a rock festival and dance in mud with you, run through a fountain, ask someone out at a bar for you or sit up all night drinking on the porch.? You can take to them about anything, but most of the time, they are the happy friends that you don’t get too deep with.? They make life more fun.
  • Mutual Friend – This is a friend that values respect and mutual exchange.? They call you as often as you call them.? You make plans together to have dinner or lunch and catch up.? They call once a week to let you know what is going on in their lives and they attend all your special events.? This is a good reliable and trusting person to have in your life.? You don’t see them everyday, but you never go a long amount of time without talking to one another.
  • Professional Friend – These are friends you met in college or professional networking circles.? You tend to share similar skills, backgrounds and industry experience.? They are great contacts and usually good for a coffee or lunch when you are in town.? If you hit a milestone and it is witnessed online, they will congratulate you.? Unless you are in the same town at the same time or one is in need of a favor, they are normally in the distance and do not surface.
  • Gaming Friend – Whether it is Call of Duty or Words With Friends, this friend is always good for a game or a thousand.? They are obsessed with online gaming.? Sometimes they will stay up until 4 AM so they don’t miss a game in China.? They develop relationships through their games and often will exchange small talk in chat areas to strengthen and develop the gaming relationship.? Once a gaming friend, always.? This can also hold true for the binge watching friend that DVR’s 5 episodes of Walking Dead and then picks a long Sunday night to drink, eat popcorn and watch all the episodes at once.

Friends2

There you have it Charleston, the 21st Century version of the “Friend”.

Some make fall into more than one category, so don’t feel you are pigeon-holed.

What kind of friend are you?? We would love to know….

Best Friends in Charleston – A Celebration of Love