A thought on “Validation” in internet use

I hear the word validation a lot, thrown around casually, or not so casually in conversations centered around trauma. While I am not trying to downplay the importance of others recognizing and accepting the truth of their perception of events, I have issues with the oversimplification of the feelings centered around the term validation, and in popular use, how that starts to change its meaning. 

I do want to say that I have a bias towards this word, so my opinion can be shadowed by those previous experiences. Many people I have engaged in the “validation” process have used the word valid to avoid doing the heavy lifting of empathic listening. What I mean by that is if I discuss a traumatic event, the record player of “your feelings are valid” starts up. Whenever I hear it, I can not help but wonder if this is the trauma version of people nodding their heads in a conversation when they are not listening. 

Outside of interpersonal interactions, I see on social media the usage of the term. You’re valid, everything you feel is valid. My run-ins with other people using the term have adopted it as an extension to excuse bad behavior, that valid also means excuse. 

The term has been molded by the internet’s influence, so much so that it has taken on its own meaning. It has evolved past the spaces in which it is suppose to be supportive and welcoming. Instead, it has become an exchange so common that there’s an erosion to its meaning. 

When this erosion happens, it lessens the impact of the word and slowly chips away at the critical and empathic understanding that many need. I despise how this word has become a placeholder for the easy way to imitate listening and healing.

 “Valid” needs to find its place back into smaller spaces where it can be given the attention it needs. Given back to individuals rather than collective groups blanketed by the word.

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