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Recently one of my friends has been writing concerning posts on her social media. She said something like "my life has always been so hard", and "what's the point of living if there is so much suffering?" I have seen similar posts by her in the past, but this time the wording is more direct and the number of posts per day is significantly higher.

I'm a little worried, and I reached out and tried to start a conversation with her by commenting the following. (We are both Chinese and she is in China while I'm currently in Canada.)

Your life seems really hard recently... did anything bad happen? Feel free to ping me if you want to talk to someone. I'm currently in Canada so there will be some time difference, though.

Her response is roughly

Sorry for using the social media for venting and disturbing you browsing it!

I'm genuinely worried about her, and it's not like I commented to stop her from posting negative feelings. If they are really disturbing, I could have simply unfollowed her. As a side note, she is posting on a secondary account with few followers. Maybe she just didn't want people to see her feelings? I can unfollow her if that's going to help, but she knows who is following that account, so I don't think that's the case.

I didn't respond to her comment and started a conversation on a chatting app instead because I feel like she might prefer a more private conversation. I told her that she didn't disturb me and that I commented because I personally only vent on social media when I cannot find someone to talk to. I also said I'm not forcing her to tell me what's going on and she can keep posting if she prefers.

She hasn't responded yet, but it is midnight in China right now so I'm not sure if she has seen the messages. I probably should have asked here before PMing her, but I was trying to send the friendly messages before she goes to bed.

How can I reassure her that I'm not disturbed by the posts, but just wanted to offer to talk to her? I'd like to learn both what I could have done differently, and what I could do in case she responds by apologizing again.

  • Hi and welcome to the site! I made an edit to try and make it more on-topic here (questions asking us to decide right/wrong or what you should do are off-topic), but feel free to edit again if you'd like :) – Em C Feb 23 at 22:45
  • @EmC Thanks! The edit perfectly words what I’d like to know, and I’ll try to be on-topic next time! – nalzok Feb 23 at 22:50
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I doubt you could have done anything much differently, given that you felt she was in trouble. She explained that she was merely venting and not in trouble, you explained your actions and she accepted that. There does not appear to be much left to do other than tell her that you accept her apology.

At the same time, you could reassure her that you misunderstood the reason of her posts but now you understand, and to feel free to keep on venting if that gives her relief. The thing is, some people feel better if they vent these feelings. It may sound like something really bad is happening but it's not. In reality, they're just feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or at a loss on dealing with life in general. After a good night's sleep they feel better, the world looks brighter, and they find productive ways of dealing with whatever confronts them in life.

Not all of us are that way. I suspect you are more like me. When I vent, I have a problem that I need help with to figure out how to solve. But I am learning that for some people the opportunity (and permission) to spout all the venom is a productive part of solving the problem. It's like they have to purge their system before they can think clearly. But they are aware that some people don't understand and are disturbed by this venting. It sounds to me as though this is what your friend is apologizing for. That's why I suggest for you to accept her apology (if she apologizes again) and assure her that you now understand.

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