I recently attended the 60th Annual Tulane Brain and Behavior Conference, which was a two day event that brought together a wide variety of mental health professionals. It was filled with informative lectures on a variety of topics and great discussion by some of the top minds in the country. Truly, this was an experience on the cutting edge of research and practice for psychiatry and psychology. I wanted to share a few thoughts with you from this weekend. A little bit of a winding post, but stick with me through it!
In one presentation, Dr. Richard Dalton gave an overview of how psychologists viewed the development of “The Self.” There have been many psychological theories on how The Self has developed over the years. As a profession, it has been important to define what it is inside us before we can talk about how we interact among each other and what is “normal.” Dr. Dalton’s described this process as figuring out, “who owns the negative affect?” Infants believe that everyone feels they should be as upset as they are in the moment, but eventually realize that their caregivers are fine and do not have the same emotions at the same time.
This process changes into: as you grow up, how do you learn to tolerate bad feelings? Do you over identify it as your fault? Are you more likely to make it someone else’s fault? What about a more balanced perspective that allows you to tolerate bad choices or mistakes and maintain a sense that you are still a good person?
That was a long way to get to this point:
Using the lens of, “Who owns the negative affect?” How does this process interact with our use of Facebook and Social Networking?
People post information online about themselves and typically it is Spin. That Spin is how people are framing their lives for other people to see and react. But, if someone says something negative about the views we put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., then we have to make a choice about how to handle the negative reaction.
Suddenly, we are put in the position of defending the Spin. Do you struggle to get that person to see you the way you want them to see you? Do you give up the struggle? Do you change your view of Self based on their negative comment?
Social Networking provides a very new and sometimes tricky place for us to exist and it is just beginning. I found this topic to be profound as we spend so much time using Social Networking to interact with one another, without much regard for how it affects us or who we are connected to online.
-Logan Williamson, LPC