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