Trauma is trendy: Therapist says Gen Z embraces sharing their pain on TikTok

SMYRNA, Del. — An expert in treating stress and emotional damage says that sharing trauma with the entire world has become “trendy” on social media — mainly because Gen Z is the first generation not to feel ashamed of it.

Meg Schnetzer, a trauma-trained somatic practitioner, works with people every day to help them overcome their past experiences. She says we have seen “an uptick on social media” of people talking about their own past trauma, and it’s now “a trend” among young adults.

The 32-year-old notes it is common to see people opening up about their traumas on platforms like TikTok and “owning” their trauma responses. She adds trauma responses are often personality traits, which can include things like being a perfectionist or being anxious as a result of earlier experiences.

Despite trauma becoming “trendy” as a topic, Schnetzer says as long as the word isn’t being “thrown around flippantly,” it’s not a bad thing. The therapist notes this development is something professionals haven’t seen before, mostly because Gen Zers are the first group who “get loud about it.”

“I’m of the belief that nobody escapes trauma – it just looks different for everyone,” says Schnetzer, who is based in Delaware, in a statement.

“Some people don’t even realize they have been through it. What’s different about this generation is they’re not ignoring it. As far as trauma goes, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

“There seems to be a lot of awareness so that people are feeling safe enough to open up and share their experiences,” Schnetzer continues. “When people are able to work up the courage to share, it ignites a whole movement.”

“I definitely think things like TikTok have accelerated the timeline – when I started two years ago, it felt like we were speaking into the void. But now, especially in the last six months – it’s everywhere. All in all, I think it’s a great thing that the generation seems to be more self-aware.”

phone depression
(Photo by Alex Green from Pexels)

Meg explains that trauma is about how you were supported while going through a difficult experience, rather than just the experience itself. She adds that emotions and beliefs can be stored in our nervous system and can be reflected years on in our behavior.

This could be addiction, lashing out, people pleasing, isolating yourself, or inability to trust people — all done with the intention of protecting yourself in some way. Meg also believes the uptick of young people having symptoms of ADHD, OCD, and autism may be a result of recognizing unresolved trauma.

“It’s this interesting crossover between the two worlds and the physical symptoms that go beyond what’s in your head,” Schnetzer says.

Generation Z is specifically opening up about this in a way that hasn’t been seen before, the therapist notes.

“A lot of us, especially in my generation, millennials, grow up to be adults that invalidate our own experiences,” she adds. “We come from a generation who were invalidated a lot, had emotions minimized, and were told to ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ rather than letting your feelings out.”

“So it feels easier in the long run to invalidate those feelings – telling yourself ‘I’ve got this far, it’s not affecting me that much’ – but ultimately it’s just another form of avoidance. So when I speak to clients, I always hear, ‘why aren’t more people being taught this?'” Schnetzer concludes.

“So while you can’t reach the entire world on TikTok, it makes a big difference – people don’t know things unless they hear it. Now Gen Z are owning their trauma responses and making a conscious stand.”

Are people sharing too much on TikTok?

A recent survey shows that more than four in five (83%) Americans agree that the government should regulate the use of certain apps when it poses a threat to the country or citizens of the country.

At a time when relations between the U.S. and China are already under scrutiny, Dr. James Hendler, Untethered World Chair of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says we could also see legislation to address more widespread internet privacy concerns.

“There is definitely worry about TikTok and its relation to the Chinese government. There is clearly a connection there,” Hendler says in a statement. “That connection clearly concerns some people in the national security area. If they decide this was a real threat, then they can actually take action.”

However, according to the survey of 2,000 social media users conducted by OnePoll, two-thirds (68%) agree that if the U.S. government were to ban TikTok, it would infringe on First Amendment rights.

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South West News Service writer Amy Reast contributed to this report.

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  1. Sharing their trauma is just another way to get attention online. It’s led to people lying about trauma just for attention.
    We are becoming desperately lonely as a species and all of this is just attention seeking to some degree and navel gazing to another.

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