Earlier this week, I ran across a couple of new services in the area of personal emotional counseling. The actors in question are Find A Therapist and Talkspace; while the former is a free localisation tool enabling you to find the closest therapist in your area and engaging with him/her by phone or e-mail, the latter provides direct encrypted messaging to a counsel in exchange for a weekly flat fee.
It is clear from the outset that, regardless of the system - be in via an app or a website -, these join a cohort of other services that are trying to bridge the gap that one may feel when confronted with his or her own fears and insecurities, which the public eye is very critique about. There is no soft way to say it, but it is more and more required by external factors to act courageously, carefree and bliss to any reason that would affect your personal appearance and performance in front of others. We are, for the most of our days, a pack of wolves hunting down on the rest and on each other.
A hunt that becomes tiresome for ourselves as well, and the hunters become the hunted. It is in this life-motto (for some) that actually lies the core of some of our problems: the lack of empathy that makes us become hunters also acts as superficiality when not realizing that we can very well become the hunted earlier than thought.
This sort of bubble, we use as both weapon and shield. It is then when we tend to refuge in malfunctioning competition that degrades us emotionally, and here is the moment when, no earlier than 10 or 15 years ago,for some, a need to find professional counselling would have arisen. Counselling meant physical, live, one-to-one interaction with a complete stranger, with whom, for some peculiar and unheard of reasons, you were supposed to feel comfortable sharing Yourself with.
Fast forward to today, and physical interaction on the counselling part may be very well limited to extinction as a result of virtual interaction via services as Find A Therapist and Talkspace. But this is only the "solution" aspect.
On the side of the "problem" lie Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - we have all these networks that have changed the perception of hunter and prey. The rising of social networks as a means of keeping relationships tight-knit induced an indirect sense of security for people not sure of themselves. But somewhere along the way, something happened - while being more and more immersed in this new dual world (real-virtual), some minds shifted completely in believing that our virtual personas are who we stand as in society. It is then when the same things that affected us in reality started taking their toll in the virtual life.
There are various statistics proving that virtual harassment, bullying and other types of behavior that lead to counselling will be more and more present. Apart from the immediate benefit - of comfort, ease-of-use and the likes - of services that don't require face-to-face contact, it is a question of whether this is scalable, to the extent where virtual emotional counselling can really prove beneficial for virtual problems.
The jungle, with its hunters and preys, is still out there, and will be long after any of the networking services we use today will be replaced or become extinct. In the long run, human interaction is the only key that can unlock oneself. The rest - mere adjuvants.