venting meta

Discussion in 'The Undercity' started by seebs, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    So, "venting", in the sense of "vent threads", mostly means "saying things because you are having strong emotions, to express those emotions". However, I have recently become aware of a rather significant distinction:

    Some people, when doing this, take it for granted that the entire content of the message is "just venting" and has no implications with regard to their beliefs on or about any factual claims implied by the statements in the thread.

    Some people assume that the emotions are transient expressions, but that the fact claims (if any) are presumably actually what they believe.

    And some do a mix, depending on circumstances.

    And this, I think, is leading to some hurt feelings and miscommunications. And it's not entirely obvious how to address this, because there's no consistent general pattern. A quick scan of vent threads shows a mix of ways of handling this. Some people tend to qualify statements in some way, with things like "I'm just really upset right now, and it feels like [...]". Other people tend to offer unqualified statements. And I suspect some of the unqualified statements are meant to be taken pretty much as face-value expressions of emotion or feeling, and others are transient rage.

    So, not sure what to suggest. As a general rule, I would say that, on a forum full of autistics, if you don't specifically and explicitly say "I don't actually think that", you are going to get people assuming that you actually think that. An assertion that something is "venting" does not necessarily communicate anything of the sort.
    • Like x 11
  2. Xitaqa

    Xitaqa Secretly awesome

    It might be worth making a blanket suggestion to one and all that if you are responding to a vent thread, it's a good idea to ask whether the viewpoint expressed is meant to be a real assertion or just an emotional expression.

    I suggest putting the burden on those responding because I think that when people are venting they are acting from an emotional place, a place of immediacy where they can't always be expected to preface or qualify their vents.

    It's probably also good to suggest that if someone is responding to your vent it may be helpful to clarify when your previous post is in fact a transient feeling and not a thing you actually think. Just as a communication strategy.

    Idk if just making people aware of this matter will help to smooth communication around it, but maybe?
    • Like x 12
  3. electroTelegram

    electroTelegram Well-Known Member

    it might be helpful to include a short explanation at the top of your vent thread to let people know how to interpret things? something like "dont take things i say here as fact, when upset i often get overwhelmed emotionally", or "if you're concerned about something i say here please ask me to clarify, when i vent i often say things i don't actually mean", or "just a heads up. unless i clearly state otherwise everything i say here is what i actually think".

    so it can still be an individual (and not a forum wide) decision. because i think its important to take i to account that each person may have different opinions about how they want their vent thread to read, and that's an individual thing, not something i think we should try and standardize.
    • Like x 6
  4. TheMockingCrows

    TheMockingCrows Resident Bisexual Lich

    I agree with ya'll, but I'm.. still mildly concerned on an individual level and thus have a question. If I'm actively upset and slamming things around in my vent thread, there is a chance I DO actively think the things I'm saying are true even if they're awful. Because my brain is absolutely positive it's true at that moment in time, and it may take minutes, hours, days, -weeks- to stop thinking thing is true by coming out of the haze and by then it's potentially already forgotten or moved on from so half the time I don't remember it. Sometimes I can catch paranoid thoughts or completely misinterpreted things, but not always. Sometimes it's just a drive-by screaming and that's all it registers to me as. Asking for clarification would potentially make things better, so would warning, but the inconsistencies are strong. I'm not sure how to bridge that gap of "THIS IS COMPLETELY REAL AND I BELIEVE IT" and "... I totally believed that because I was having an episode but idk how I feel about it now and/or it's not important at all" and "I have no recollection of ever saying this or having an opinion one way or another". I'm fine talking with people about things but.. I can't explain it even here, it's confusing. But my interpretation of things changes fast depending on what I'm doing at the time. Hour to hour is different sometimes, I could be screaming and terrified one and then p chill and laid back Meh the next, and it'll color my reactions and replies.

    Is there a thing I can place in my thread to explain that that would help anything like this problem get across? bc I can't tell what would upset people or not compared to me and have no idea what to really do and it's scary but I want to cover bases before the bases catch on fire someday. what warning label should I use.
    • Like x 6
  5. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I think clarification later is probably fine in most cases? I think a lot of the benefit will come just from people knowing that this is a thing, and that some people will tend to interpret things one way or another.
    • Like x 4
  6. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    "In this thread, I throw cutlery to get all the feelings and thoughts out of me, as I need to throw them all out in order to process them. Some of them I believe, some of them I don't, some of them I believe only when I'm in an awful place, and a lot of the time I don't know which it is until after I process them."
    • Like x 6
  7. blue

    blue hightown funk you up

    @TheMockingCrows would it work to just quote the whole post you wrote explaining it? i thought it made your point well.
    • Like x 2
  8. OnnaStik

    OnnaStik Relatively nice for a bloodthirsty mercenary

    I just wrote something on similar lines. Let me try to break down for you guys the process and purpose of "vent", at least in my case.
    1. I have difficulty expressing my needs and wants, Because Autism and Because Self-Worth. Frustrations of varying degrees of seriousness and reasonableness accumulate. I am working on this, but I don't think the foreseeable future involves this being completely overcome.
    2. Something upsets me badly. Distress reaches critical mass.
    3. I can finally express negativity, ideally in a space designated for the purpose and accessible to those who choose to access it- this helps keep me from the temptation to express it inward in the form of self-harm. Trying to maintain my self-scrutiny at this point, which labeling individual statements would require, is downright dangerous.
    4. I remain upset, but at a much lower PSI, so to speak. I am now capable of the self-care required to mop up what distress is left over.
    5. After some time to do that, I am able to evaluate that expressed negativity in light of a more normal mental state and can try to assess which statements identify real problems (in the world or in me), which statements were always bullshit, and which statements I may need to consider further.
    (This isn't really germane to the topic of labeling venting statements, and it may only apply to me, but if someone apologizes about any of this between critical mass and Stage Five, I am not ready to hear it! It registers as an attempt to manipulate and silence me and will make things worse instead of better!)

    To ask for notifications on things in the vent thread that I don't actually mean is to ask me to open a box with the crowbar that's inside. I cannot tell whether I seriously think something until I have calmed down, and the vent thread is part of the process that allows me to calm down safely. If there's something in a vent that you think is potentially actionable if true, I'm going to have to go with Just Ask First- with the caveat that waiting before doing so is going to get much more accurate results. I personally am almost always to Stage Five by the time it's been twenty-four hours, which is a nice easy benchmark to remember, I think.
    • Like x 8
  9. Xitaqa

    Xitaqa Secretly awesome

    This whole post is a great analysis of your process, and the quoted section above seems particularly important. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of folks have similar processes but maybe haven't developed quite as clear a road map.

    This inspires a thought. Maybe it would be helpful for folks who have a good idea of their process, or who at least know how they want people to behave in their vent threads, to edit their first post to include some guidelines about it, and add a thread tag asking readers to look at that, like "Read first post before responding." It might save a lot of grief, and it makes sense to me that we should expect vent threads to be customized to each individual's needs rather than trying to develop some forum-wide standard.

    For example, I avoid griping about other kintsugijin bc I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings and I know that my bad feelings toward people are temporary and a poor reflection of reality, sort of like a splitting thing. I might add a "Before Responding" section on my first post to that effect and feel more free to vent when someone has distressed me.

    It also occurs to me that if someone responds inappropriately - to use Onna as an example, if someone posts an apology before they're (sorry, I don't know your pronouns so I'm using the 'they' of ambiguity) ready to hear it, and this sets off those manipulation alarms, they have they option of telling that person firmly to read the "Before Responding" and they don't need to engage beyond that until they are ready.

    Idk if that seems like it would be helpful for you, Onna, but I could see this defusing some conflicts before they get out if hand. I think I might try it in my thread, and I'd encourage anybody who reads this to try it in theirs. I figure the worst case scenario is that we waste a few minutes of effort, best case is we make it easier to resolve conflict before it escalates, at least sometimes.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
    • Like x 7
  10. OnnaStik

    OnnaStik Relatively nice for a bloodthirsty mercenary

    @Xitaqa "they" is good, no worries.

    I might just make myself a new thread for future vents, the one I've been using started life as a very serious issue discussion and in hindsight that probably muddies things even more. Besides, I kind of want to move to the Holler Closet and don't want to bother with getting a mod to do it...

    Edit: did the thing
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
    • Like x 2
  11. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I think that kind of thing is usually fine if people know about it. The conflicts I've seen have mostly come when one person does know about it, and another doesn't, so they interpret things very differently, or when someone refuses to clarify ever as to which of the things they said they actually still think, and which were expressions of emotion.
    • Like x 4
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