The common phenomenon of vague social media posts that seem like just an attempt to gain attention is more likely to be someone’s way of seeking out mental health support.
Vaguebooking is something that happens often on social media. It usually comes in the form of a post that alludes to something dramatic or difficult but doesn’t actually say what the problem is. This type of posting is especially common among teenagers.
While many people scroll by these types of posts and don’t think much of them, Dr. Iona Pal of MemorialCare Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach says everyone should start taking these posts more seriously.
“The people who do this periodically or more consistently are actually looking for acceptance, they’re looking for help, they’re looking for social inclusion,” said Pal.
Vaguebooking can lead to assumptions and misunderstandings within groups of friends and often leaves the poster feeling even more isolated when their posts do not produce their desired outcome.
People who engage in vaguebooking often don’t know how to properly reach out for support through their peers. These types of posts can be a sign of declining mental health in a person who already suffers from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Teens often turn to social media when they are struggling with something personal or mental health-related. It is crucial that parents and loved ones keep an eye out for these kinds of posts and try to have open communication with their children.
“We should be encouraging kids to talk about how they feel so it doesn’t get to the point where they think the only way they can express themselves is through vague comments on social media,” said Pal.
Dr. Pal also suggested that parents monitor their child’s posts on social media and have some sort of parental controls in place for younger children online. Younger children can also benefit from classes on communication and activities that focus on building friendships. Pal stressed the importance of children feeling as if they have someone they can be open and honest with their lives.
“Make sure that there is always someone that is a safe haven for a child, it doesn’t necessarily have to be mom or dad, where if something is going on that child knows oh I know who I can talk to,” said Pal.
Many teens and young adults turn to social media in times of crisis but this isn’t always the best option when looking for support. Pal suggested the 211 hotline as a great resource for those looking for mental health support, especially for young people who might be hesitant to share too much of their personal issues with those around them.
The 211 hotline connects callers to resources in their area that can help with a variety of issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, and mental health treatment. 211 is a confidential line that is available 24 hours, seven days a week.
By Morgan Trivitt