By Jack Turpen
The culture within society, especially within my generation, is particularly unpleasant in a lot of ways. There is a general, mostly negative, vibe surrounding the relatability that we so often seek. I was born in 2003, making me a slightly embarrassed member of Generation Z. Those within Generation Z, or Gen Zers as some call them, are described as more forward thinking people (Eldridge). They tend to be more goal oriented; they are go-getters (Eldridge). Perceptions surrounding this generation include stereotypes involving their obsessions with technology and their short attention spans (Eldridge). Though I would love to not agree with these stereotypes, I am already distracted from the topic at hand. The biggest thing I have noticed with the generation I reside in is their sheer audacity. There is a big problem within this generation and it has to do with their need for relatability, and they will get that in any manner they can.
In general, I am a person who is intolerant of anything that will make me physically cringe. There is just something about it I will not accept if I do not have to. As I read that back, it does align with the innate entitlement that Gen Zers so often have, but honestly I’m just expressing myself here. Things I have to avoid because of their ability to make me cringe include: musicals, karaoke, dad jokes and trauma dumping. That last one is probably the worst one. However, an important distinction is the trauma dumping that is non-consensual, there is a huge difference.
Trauma dumping, as defined by Psychology Today, is “a term used to describe intense oversharing, which can leave everyone involved feeling more distressed and helpless” (Wickremasinghe). People who tend to trauma dump have a hard time organizing their thoughts and feelings through a filter, making it easier to just say anything and everything (Wickremasinghe). These can be qualities I think all of us possess in some form or fashion. Trauma dumping is only defined by its inappropriate timing and the bizarreness of its setting.
Dumping with a close friend in the comfort of your own home is different than dumping a stranger in a coffee shop. I wanna put this in terms of the existence of the dumper and the receiver. The dumper is, obviously, the person who is actually doing the trauma dumping. The receiver, again very obviously, is the person who is on the other end of the act. The biggest determining factor surrounding how damaging a dumping can be is whether or not the receiver agreed to the act.
I am not writing this from the perspective of someone who has never trauma dumped. In fact, I would say I do it pretty consistently. The key difference in my behavior is that everyone I do it with has agreed to it. When I am dumping, I am doing it with a person who actually cares to hear about it. I have developed some kind of relationship with this person, built on some level of trust. That relationship can be smaller, as long as there is an understanding. If I share an involvement with you or we have conversed before, that might be enough of a relationship. It is all about making sure the receiving party has agreed to everything.
Getting that consent is not as uncomfortable as that may read. Rather than relying on conformation from the receiver, it is easier to prompt them with a question. Saying something like “hey, is it ok if I talk to you about something that is personal” or “I could really use some advice”. It doesn't have to be too complicated, as long as you're acknowledging that you are considering the feelings of the receiver. Showing consideration for how it will affect the receiving party is most important. If there is no consent given, then there should not be any trauma dumping.
Another key difference is the motive behind the actual dumping. I could just want someone to listen to me rant or I could be asking for advice, but both are valid. The motivation behind trauma dumping is private until presented. It is not required that we reveal our intentions for everything, or even anything. But, it is important to have good intentions when dumping within an important friendship. Dumping for the purpose of attention is not wise. This purpose is usually made obvious by the location and/or the identity of the receiver. Attention-seeking trauma dumping can be more deeply rooted, but that is for the scientists to worry about. In theory, all trauma dumping is attention-seeking, as one is asking for the attention of the receiver. But, like with most things in life, there is a good and bad in any attention-seeking.
The last thing to consider when trauma dumping is your future self. I am someone who is consistently embarrassed by my younger self. Though I am sure this feeling is universal, it has become something I think about daily. I have started to lead my life in a way that is more considerate of the future me. If I think I will find it embarrassing in the future, I will reconsider it. This can apply to trauma dumping in the same way it applies to everything else in life. When spilling your heart out to someone, you wanna make sure it counts. Think about the future you; will you appreciate this act in the future? Will you be thankful for having shared your troubles with another human? The answer may be no and that is ok, but the answer can be yes.
Sharing our feelings is crucial, how are we to go on without sharing things with others. We have to be honest with the people closest to us, in sharing our lives we alleviate so much hardship. Trauma dumping can harm, as we have established, but it can also heal. Imagine you are struggling with something so taxing that it starts to affect your health. It is something you think that no one else is experiencing, you feel alone in your journey. Trauma dumping can mean finding out the people around are experiencing similar challenges. The right way to deal with trauma can help people recover and come together.