Emotional Obesity: We're Bingeing On Our Feelings, But It's Time To Stop Overindulging

Even Instagram doesn’t provide respite, thanks to the rise of the 400-word caption – well, essay – unpicking the poster’s previous 24 hours. Despite still wearily scrolling past, when I get home, I question my children at length on their emotional states, scanning their responses for red flags, before ‘workshopping’ my day with my husband. We can thank the Victorians for the stiff upper lip, inspired by the Stoics and the Spartans of Ancient Greece. In response to vast changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution, the Victorians believed the key to maintaining social order was to keep one’s emotions in check. Now juicy, heightened confessions are splattered across every other page, and are as lucrative as they are widespread. While this willingness to share can be helpful, these days, no celebrity interview is complete without a revelation of a personal struggle. Influencers post plaintive Instagram unburdenings in the guise of keeping it real. But the platform is so commercialised, many of the girls-next-door are living lifestyles that no longer chime with the masses. We’ve all paused on posts where a friend spills their guts; it seems callous to simply ‘like’ it. Emotional outpourings require a supportive comment in a way a standard selfie doesn’t. Algorithms reward posts that garner greater engagement with increased visibility so, if your livelihood is based on metrics, it makes sense to go ‘sadfishing’. This is the practice of exaggerating your emotions to snag attention, a descendent of cryptic Facebooks posts circa a decade ago, posted by your neediest friends to elicit the classic response: ‘U OK hun?’ ‘This is the era of candid content,’ says McCorquodale. ‘We’re moving away from that picture-perfect look, where photos are heavily filtered, the captions are sugary and everything is wonderful. I’m not suggesting that we embrace the no-nonsense spirit of the 1970s bloke, put a sock in it, go down the pub, grab a pint and talk solely about football (hi, Dad!). ‘If you’re feeling lonely, anxious or depressed, you need to get out of your head and not dwell on things,’ says Murphy. That releases feelgood chemicals, such as oxytocin, which can combat negative feelings. I chat about all of this to a friend of mine who has endured some tough times in recent years, including her husband suffering a life-changing accident, the sudden death of her beloved sister and her son being expelled from school.