Top 5 Internet Illnesses
Posted on Sep 30, 2011

5. Munchausen Syndrome

The Internet provides endless chatrooms, online support groups, and social networking sites where people can share their problems, seek advice, and get sympathy.

I was shocked to learn that some people actually fake illnesses or tragedies just to get attention. They pretend to be victims of rape, assault, abuse, and serious illness in order to get attention: a symptom of Munchhausen Syndrome. And, according to an article at the BBC News website, the “internet may be encouraging people to pretend they are ill in order to get attention, according to US research.”

In the same news article quoted above, a Dr. Feldman from Alabama explains that persons with this syndrome can be treated with “a chance to get… attention from medical professionals in a psychiatric setting. However, most patients do not want this. They want to have a serious medical ailment and not a psychiatric illness” (news.bbc.co.uk).

4. Facebook Depression

According to the Daily Mail, Facebook and other social networking sites make teenage girls “prone to anxiety and depression”. Along with texting and emailing, these sites allow teens to coruminate (a fancy word for talking about things over and over and over again). According to the same article, “repeated conversations among adolescent girls, particularly about romantic disappointments, worsen their mood and create negative emotions” (www.dailymail.co.uk). Prior to this teenage girls apparently did not dwell on topics such as ‘do my bangs look funny’ or ‘why didn’t he call?’ for hours and hours and then sulk in their rooms.

These are the results of a study conducted on 83 teenage girls at Stony Brook University (NY). One of the doctors, Dr. Davila, offers this antidote for teenagers who continuously talk about the same problem: “They could change the subject”.

Parents of teenage girls everywhere now plan to send their daughters to Stony Brook University so that they too can learn to deduce blatantly obvious solutions to things that everyone already knows.

3. Internet Rage

While it might be argued that Internet Rage itself is not really harmful to your health, it can lead to Internet stalking and perhaps even violence – so if you are the one inciting the rage then you should beware.

According to Tim McDonald of www.newsfactor.com, one of the sources of Internet rage is “information overload”. He explains, “the sheer volume of information available on the Web — and the slowness in accessing it — causes a great deal of stress, according to the independent survey commissioned by WebTop, a British Web indexing company.” He also reports that a study “found that 68 percent of the 200 people surveyed found computer glitches more stressful than spending a weekend with a partner’s parents, and 38 percent found them more stressful than being stuck on public transportation.”

Internet Rage manifests itself all over the place, from the comment section of a blog post to the headlines on your local news station.

Browse the comments under a Youtube video, a website’s forum, or on someone’s blog and it doesn’t take long to find some very nasty words. Perhaps the anonymous nature of the Internet encourages people to say what they really think. The worst part of this is that it’s contagious- your angry comment angers others, and the downward spiral continues.

Please let me point out that when your therapist suggested that you ‘write your feelings down’, she didn’t mean in the comments section of a blog. If you can’t restrain yourself, then try to limit yourself to sites that actually want your harsh words, like justrage.com or mybiggestcomplaint.com.

Some people say, ‘get over it’, but I think we have a right to be appalled and upset by fellow human behavior. It brings us all down, so stop passing your bad vibes onto other people, already!

And, by the way, you’re not as anonymous as you think so you might want to stop before you enrage someone who is even more of a nut job than you are. A Mr. John Jones experienced this in 2005, after getting into an argument with another man in a Yahoo chatroom, who then used “details obtained online… traveled 70 miles to Mr Jones’ home… and beat him up with a pickaxe handle” (new.bbc.co.uk). Yikes!

Okay, so enough Internet Rage – there’s only two more spots left on my list and then next one is a real pain in the neck:

2. Upper Limb Disorders (ULD)

Upper Limb Disorders include: neck tension syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, tendinitis (mainly hands/wrists), tenosynovitis, bursitis, repetitive strain injury (RSI), and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. All of these ailments can be linked to Internet use.

RSI Repetitive Strain Injury – the modern version of writer’s cramp, you experience pain and strain when you overuse one of your upper limbs (i.e. arms). “The basis for this illness concept is the idea that one can overuse a tool, such as a computer keyboard… in a way that causes tissue damage leading to pain” (Wikipedia).

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – “The two groups of people most likely to develop TOS are those suffering neck injuries in motor vehicle accidents and those who use computers in non-ergonomic postures for extended periods of time” (Wikipedia).

Upper Limb Disorders earn second place on this list due to the overwhelming list of disorders they encompass and the fact that I couldn’t come up with anything funny for them (so they must be quite serious).

1. Internet Addiction

This is Number One for two big reasons: it actually has the word Internet in the title of the affliction and also because it has been fatal in some cases.

The nature of the addiction is also pervasive: when it comes to the Internet, someone can “be addicted to nearly everything, starting with pure act of typing, visiting chat rooms, shopping on-line and ending up with multiplayer games, which users characterize as “heroinware.” (www.infoniac.com).

Also, it’s so real that there are rehabilitation centres for treatment. In a NY Times article, Martin Fackler describes Internet Addiction rehab in South Korea: “Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counselors lead group sessions, and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming.” He goes on to explain the seriousness of Internet Addiction in South Korea, “It has become a national issue here in recent years, as users started dropping dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end…”


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