As a person working in social media I often try to stay connected to current trends. A relatively new social networking site called Whisper is becoming quite popular. Whisper is a place in which you can confess thoughts or life events anonymously. Simply, you create text that is posted over an image of your choosing. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, you don’t have to use your real name. The application takes great lengths to make sure your real identity remains hidden. (If you want it to be.) Personally I am not a fan of anonymity, but this service isn’t really geared towards me. While a lot of what you will see on Whisper is complaints about significant others, not to mention all of the disturbing confessions from individuals in the service industry, there might be some good coming from this tool. Something new showing up on Whisper pertains to Veterans. There are a lot of confessions/posts from individuals who serve. Both active duty military personnel and Veterans are taking to Whisper to discuss PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma.
This will be the first of two blogs profiling PTSD and MST through the Whisper posts.
I first became aware of this trend because of a recent BuzzFeed post profiling some Whisper updates by Veterans discussing PTSD. It was quite eye opening to say the least. One post was from a soldier who stated that he wished he had died in an attack. Another was from an individual who stated that he cried himself to sleep every night. However, last night while scrolling around BuzzFeed I saw another post regarding those who have served posting to Whisper. This time the subject matter was Military Sexual Trauma. MST is something that we hold close to our hearts in this firm. Since PTSD and MST are becoming recognized more on a national level, I decided to look into the use of Whisper as a coping tool a little deeper. Throughout this post you will see some real whisper posts created by Veterans. Please note these can be quite graphic.
While I mentioned earlier that I am personally not a fan of posting anonymously online, I think in a situation like this it’s completely different. I have worked with Veterans for many years now. When it comes to PTSD, admitting that you may have it is very difficult. Talking about incidents can be even harder. The benefit of something like Whisper is that it can’t really be traced back to you. Granted, nothing you post online is ever truly anonymous, this is far more secure than something like Twitter or Facebook. Also, on a site like Facebook in which you have to use your real name, there is a good chance that you have a lot of “friends” on the site that you don’t actually want to see certain posts. In a situation like this you may not want to post something about having PTSD because of who happens to be on your friends list.You likely have Facebook friends who are aunts, cousins, or other acquaintances who simply won’t understand. If you have a family like mine, they may even use what you post against you. On traditional sites individuals are less likely to post something about PTSD because of the lack of understanding. Plus, if you are just realizing that you have PTSD, or just starting to seek treatment, you probably don’t want a bunch of people to “Like” it.
It’s a lot easier to talk to a computer than it is to talk to people in real life. This is not really earth shattering news. Honestly it is why social media became so popular a decade ago. This form of mediated communication really altered the way in which a generation communicates. This is why you see so many negative comments on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. In our minds we aren’t really talking to our friends, we are just typing something in a computer program. This means we don’t have to deal with the consequences. If i were to walk up to someone in Pittsburgh and proclaim that his favorite football squadron, the Steelers, are the worst group of Arena League rejects I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing an attempt at football, there is a good chance he would physically harm me.However, if I do that on a Facebook post he created, there is less likely a chance he will punch me. Granted we are talking about Steelers fans here, and they tend to not be the best at decision making. Kidding aside, the absences of consequences can be a good thing. This is why dating sites are popular. Your guard is down because you aren’t interacting with an actual person. The same can be said for using a service like Whisper to talk about your problems with PTSD. You can say something like “My PTSD makes me cry myself to sleep” without worrying about how another person will react. It’s really what we learned in communications 101; when barriers come down, communication apprehension also goes away.
I look at something like Whisper as a wonderful first step. Sometimes just saying “I have this condition,” or “I feel this way,” is a great start to seeking treatment. While long term anonymous confessions may do little to help you fully embrace PTSD, it can be help get you used to talking about it with others.
Another great aspect of Whisper is that you get to interact with others via your post or theirs. This can create a great dialogue to help you open up about what you have experienced, and to find others with shared experiences. From my experience in communications, and then again with working with Veterans, seeking others with shared experiences can help relieve anxiety and lead to a sense of belonging. For instance, I have a very different life view when it comes to having children. In the area in which I live that can be very isolating. I recently found another individual who shared these same thoughts. It really put me at ease because it’s great to know you aren’t alone. We can see this on a more superficial level too. For instance, I live in West Virginia and am a fan of The Columbus Blue Jackets. They are a hockey team. About 97% of the population here is not aware that the team exists. When I find another individual who happens to be a fan of the team, I tend to enjoy my hobby a little more. Regardless if it is something as unimportant as hockey, or something serious like PTSD, finding others who are like you can be very beneficial.
I will be the first to admit that there is a lot of stuff on Whisper I don’t like. Posting mean comments online without sharing your name is pretty cowardly. This is not like that. If a combat Vet can take the first steps in getting treatment by making use of something like Whisper, then I am a supporter. I am interested to see how this site evolves in the future and if more Veterans take to it to talk about PTSD.
If you are struggling with PTSD, or are curious about treatment options, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our Toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather receive a call from one of our representatives, fill out this form now.
Look for our second part coming soon.