Problems With Internet Chat – Bored And Vulnerable Users
By: Toni Hoy
Updated January 28, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
People chat online for various reasons. For instance, maybe they wish to retain contact with old friends and classmates. Perhaps, they are looking for answers to specific questions. And some people enjoy reaching out to an international community spread throughout the world. In general, it's a great way to develop new relationships and be more social. At the same time, it tends to stave off feelings of boredom.
"I Just Feel Numb!"
With interactive robots that make cute faces, avatars you can build and manipulate, photo and video sharing, and yet, do you still feel bored in a chat room? It seems the cheerier everyone else becomes, the more alienated you feel from them. You don't care that hearts and flowers pop up on the screen and cascade down the sides when you say something nice or witty. You don't want to discuss the latest celebrity scandal or analyze the latestmade-for-Netflix series, either.
You're not just having a dreary time in the chat room, you're depressed. You're simply not making an emotional connection with anyone. Some might argue that it's because a virtual connection isn't real. Of course, it's real! Your virtual and physical reality coexist and are a part of your life. We can make friends who live a thousand miles away and these relationships are just as real as the relationship with your neighbor, in some cases even more so.
It's true there is a great deal of freedom in creating an internet persona. To participate in many groups and chat rooms, you don't have to use your real name or demographics such as age and sex. If you want, you can even make up your own background and not share personal experiences. But because people are internet savvy these days, it better be good.
Most people, however, often grow tired of pretending to be someone else or maybe someone they are not at some point. We all have a need to honestly relate to others and them to us. We long to form new connections with other people. The motivations are the same as they would be in the physical world: curiosity, congeniality, the desire to share information, longing for real understanding, reduce loneliness, and a desire for true community. This is why massively multiplayer role-playing games (MMORPGs) are so popular. These games allow us to be a part of something within a cohesive group that has stated goals.
If you've withdrawn from communicating with your friends online, the chances are, you've withdrawn from those around you in the physical world as well. When you are struggling psychologically, you feel that no matter how much you talk, nobody's really listening to you. Then, it becomes pointless to talk much at all. If you do tell people you're depressed, many times they're going to give you unwanted advice, do-it-yourself (DIY) remedies in the form of cheery quotes and meaningless self-help phrases. It's not what you want. In fact, it's probably very difficult for you to state what you want.
A report from the New York Times stated that now more than ever, most people (up to 40 percent of the population) feel isolated and withdrawn from everyone at some point in their lives. Social separation, as it's called, is a dangerous place to be in. This is where a good chat room can help.
The Vulnerable User
Chat rooms are designed to give a real social encounter experience to their users. They are a twenty-four hour a day community you can walk into and out of with ease. How you interact with the other users will be based on your real-life experiences. If you have a quick wit, it will be immediately apparent. If you are gregarious, everybody knows you. If you are shy, eventually people will realize it.
As chat rooms have become more popular, social norms and rules have developed. Most people understand these codes and etiquette. If you do not and there are no posted guidelines, ask others in the chat room. Most are willing to help and share their knowledge.
Most chat users are sympathetic toward the more reticent members and will try to draw them out in a discussion. However, every online community has its share of trolls. Trolls are the same as bullies. They prey on those with the least amount of confidence and the easily intimidated. They prey on fears and anxieties. Some internet scandals have included reports of internet users who were bullied into suicide by online trolls.
Please note: If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7.
Protecting Yourself From Trolls
Unmonitored chat rooms are notorious for being infected with trolls. When confronted with a message from a troll, it's important to recognize how that message impacts us at the moment Often, it is designed to affect our self-esteem, insult our intelligence, or be bitingly sarcastic. It's common to feel outraged when someone we don't even know is being disrespectful toward us. It's common to have a visceral physical response such as sweating, increased blood pressure, and a racing heart.
Properly managing these feelings is important as well as how to approach an internet troll who is targeting you. Some trolls are just looking for attention from others in the chat room. Other trolls are looking to elicit a specific emotional response, such as anger. Once this is achieved, they usually back off and wait for another target to emerge.
It is entirely normal for a personal attack by a troll to drive you into feeling less than or becoming irate, especially if you feel that you did nothing to provoke such an attack. This does not mean you have allowed the troll to get inside your head. The emotional reaction you have is completely normal. Avoid allowing a troll attack to keep you from participating in your favorite chat rooms.
Ways to prevent trolls from ruining your chat room experience:
- You often hear the phrase “Don't feed the trolls.”There is a good reason for this. Sometimes, we all need to just walk away from an argument or debate, even if we don't want to. Trolls tend to create heated arguments purposely. In such situations ask yourself: Can I just let this go? Is this debate really worth my time and mental health? Is this person really interested in what I have to say?
- Many chat rooms and various platforms allow you to report abusive behavior to a moderator. Moderators can investigate the claim, sometimes in real time. They can take action against the offender via banning or silencing the offender, at least temporarily. No one (except for the troll) will blame you for making this decision. If they do, perhaps this isn't the chat room for you.
- Accept your response to the behavior. Allow the initial response to roll over you. Once the initial emotional shock has worn off, think about the situation from a rational mindset. You don't have to respond to a troll with anger. Instead, you can respond from a mindset of curiosity and concern. Say to yourself: This person may be struggling with something I know nothing about. How sad is it that this is how this person chooses to interact with me? Many trolls try to evoke an emotional response from others because of their own unhappy lives. It should not excuse their poor behavior, but it may help you to see their behavior through the lens of loving-kindness.
- Accept that this situation has happened and although you can't stop trolls from their poor behavior, you can choose to either engage or disengage. You hold that power, not them.
Chat Boredom and Yearning for Help
There are many different types of chat rooms. They can even be compartmentalized to cater to your tastes. Nowadays, there are various specialty chat rooms that are designed to educate people about their mental health as well as help one another. Online support groups serve this function. Other chat rooms deal with very specific types of mental health issues, including chat rooms for anxieties and depression.
If you're bored because nothing seems to make you feel good, no matter where you are or what you're doing, you might have depression or another mental health issue. Find a quality mental health professional who knows how to treat people with depression, join a support group and contact people you know who care about you and could possibly help you.
You don’t have to physically see a therapist. You can meet with one online. A licensed online therapist can help you explore underlying reasons for your boredom and teach you techniques for how to manage your depression symptoms.
Evidence has shown that online therapy has been proven to be slightly better than face-to-face therapy regarding cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) for depression. In a literature review of 17 studies on the effectiveness of online CBT or eCBT when contrasted with traditional therapy, it was found that eCBT was better at reducing the symptoms of depression. It was also noted that eCBT could be less expensive than face-to-face therapy. Online therapy for CBT can also be used effectively for other mental health conditions. People with PTSD, eating disorders, and anxiety have found relief through this type of treatment.
BetterHelp Can Support You
If you are looking for mental health resources online, BetterHelp has articles available to better educate you about depression and other issues. BetterHelp’s online licensed therapists are trained to help people of all ages deal with their depression and feelings of isolation. You have the option to communicate via text or phone/video chat. Some clients like the "anonymous" feeling of text chat, whereas others like the personal connection of making eye contact with a counselor. You can also do this in the comfort of your own home or wherever you feel most comfortable and at a time convenient for you.Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
I've had 3 or 4 sessions with Daniel, and each one has been incredibly productive. He has helped me reframe the way I think in specific cases, and I can tell it's helped me with my anxiety and feelings of isolation. His check-ins are thoughtful, and they also act as a reminder to continue to work on the skills/solutions he helps you develop. Overall, he's an amazing counselor.
Courtney is an amazing counselor. She helped me a lot feel less lonely during these times. She helped me with finding ways to stop ruminating. I definitely grew a bit these past few weeks with her help.
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