Online Ranting – Is it Healthy?

August 2nd, 2013 by Andrea Bennett

It might feel good to get it off your chest in the short term, but venting online may not be so productive in the long-term.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Nearly every venue online, including this one, encourages readers to weigh in. Go ahead and let it all out; the people behind the websites really do want to know what you’re thinking.

And it’s easier now than ever. Sharing one’s thoughts used to be the avocation of print magazine and newspaper readers, who had to be awfully impassioned to summon the energy to take pen to paper and snail mail a letter to the editor. But now you can have your day in the court of public opinion, immediately, by simply weighing in on this or most any blog item. And you can do it anonymously. Cathartic, right?

The short answer is yes. But in the long run, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, venting online could just make you an angrier person.

According to the researchers, there are those who feel relaxed after reading and writing online posts, and those who become upset and fixated by them. Either way, online commenters seem to value their anonymity, which makes them unlikely to participate in studies about their own Internet behavior. As the researchers suggest, “The scarcity of research is unfortunate as anger expressed online likely leads to damaged relationships and other sorts of interpersonal problems.” By numbers alone, it’s easy to see that venting is popular: Some websites provide a forum designated specifically for outrage.

The study did not determine why some people feel better in the short term after venting, but it did find that most frequent ranters turned out to be angrier in the long run. The study, the researchers said, “found that those who frequent rant-sites have significantly higher trait anger scores than the norm and express their anger in more maladaptive ways than the norm.” They also average almost one physical fight per month and more than two verbal fights per month.

Are you an online ranter? Do you feel the instant gratification of letting out your emotions - but feel the negative impacts later? Weigh in.