Some TikTokers who bought Taylor Swift tickets say they have “survivor’s guilt.”

Some TikTokers who bought Taylor Swift tickets say they have “survivor’s guilt.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 16: Taylor Swift appears with fans during the World Premiere of Cats presented by Universal Pictures on December 16, 2019 in New York City.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

In this New York photo from 2019, Taylor Swift poses with fans — many of whom have some strong feelings about getting tickets to her tour this week, while many others don’t. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

As parents and children across the nation still process this week’s Taylor Swift Ticketmaster debacle — which saw potential buyers shut out of the presale, the general sale canceled, resellers asking up to $28,000 a ticket, politicians stepping in in the fray and Swift herself making a disturbing statement — some have a harder time than others.

And that, surprisingly, includes Swifties who it was can successfully purchase tickets.

“I survived the great war, but not without survivor’s guilt,” was the caption on just one of a flood of TikToks posted by people with tickets who say their happiness is dampened by “survivor’s guilt” because their friends and other fans they left empty handed. .

“Survivor’s guilt is real,” notes one caption.

“Having survivor’s guilt for getting good seats on the tour of seasons,” notes another.

Others just say, simply, “Survivor’s guilt.”

What is happening here?

That’s a mix of confusion, big emotions and, in some younger cases, the not-so-surprising results of having a teenage brain, says teen-focused psychologist Barbara Greenberg.

“It’s a misuse of the term,” she tells Yahoo Life of “survivor’s guilt,” noting that it’s not the first example of its kind, as “trauma” is also frequently used on social media.

“Of course, it’s the teenage brain in action,” he continues, “because something that should be just a low-level emotion—my friend didn’t get a ticket—in the teenage brain, where they don’t have the kind of emotional control that we hope what they will have when they grow up is recorded very strongly.”

Plus, “I think kids don’t really know what those phrases mean … and that’s the problem when kids don’t have the right labels, because then they’ll stick to whatever label seems to fit,” she says. “And what it really speaks to is the need to educate children and teenagers about the proper use of language.” For example, she notes, “They use, ‘I want to kill myself a lot,’ it’s in the vocabulary, so I say, ‘Do you want to die?’ Or are you very upset about the situation?” They try hard to explain their feelings, which are probably intense.”

So what is survivor’s guilt?

What it really means, Greenberg explains, is “when you’ve seen other people experience trauma and somehow you were able to escape it, but they didn’t.” And trauma means something serious life or death. “We’re talking about someone in a car accident and your boyfriend or your mother doesn’t survive, but you do. Or it could be your freshman year in college and you leave a party but your boyfriend stays and gets sexually assaulted… Or you survive a mass shooting shooting”.

According to the current edition of the psychiatric diagnostic manual, the DSM-5survivor’s guilt was once a diagnosis in its own right, but is now considered a possible symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and usually involves distorted feelings of guilt and negative thoughts about the self.

“When experiencing survivor’s guilt after a trauma,” notes the What’s Your Grief source, “it’s common to feel that someone didn’t deserve to survive. In addition, as one feels relief and appreciation for their survival, they often feel both guilt and shame because I had those feelings when others didn’t survive.”

Medical News Today explains, “Survivors may wonder why they escaped death while others did. They may also wonder if there was anything they could have done to prevent the traumatic event or preserve life.”

On TikTok, Taylor Swift’s posts sparked backlash, calling them out for misusing “survivor’s guilt.”

“I don’t think it’s okay,” said TikTok sensation Chris Olsen. “You can’t compare people who didn’t get tickets to people who did passed away.”

Another TikToker said, “There’s no way you can compare getting Taylor Swift tickets to survivor’s guilt. Am I reading that right?”

What’s more likely, of course, is that people in this situation feel “normal guilt,” Greenberg says — something noted by WNYC radio and podcast host Brian Lehrer, who called into his show Friday in frustration parents, one who said her daughter didn’t even want to talk about how lucky she was to get tickets when so many didn’t. “You had a normal ticketing experience,” Lehrer said, “but your daughter doesn’t want to talk about it, because it seems like she’s glamorizing it.”

So why does the right term matter? For two important reasons, Greenberg explains.

“If you use [survivor’s guilt] inappropriately, you minimize other people’s experiences,” he says. “But it could also lead to emotional dysregulation – meaning that emotions can spiral out of control and spiral out of control if you put more of a label on something than you really should. Then your emotions could follow suit and it could be an emotional meltdown.”

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