As someone who loves social media, I see many messages every day encouraging me to "read this to find out how to make tons of money on Facebook and Twitter!" I can’t vouch for any of those systems, but I do know what I would do if I wanted to make big bank: become a therapist who specializes in social media-prompted neuroses. I'd have a swank office (FREE WI-FI of course!) and instead of a couch I'd have a massage chair, because a day on Facebook can wreck both your ego and your spine. Am I a get-rich-on-social-media genius or what?
Troubling neuroses emerge in all social situations, poor little humans that we are. So it’s not surprising that making our hyperclicking limbic systems engage in countless social interactions at nano-speed has given a super sonic social media spin to our garden variety neurotic thoughts.
It’s hard to talk about the wacky feelings, obsessions and behaviors that accompany social media interaction, though -- in fact, doing so with a non-social mediate can make you sound VERY crazy indeed. “So I’ve been following her for two years, and she Tweets at me maybe once a month or so and I've sent her tons of Stumble Upon traffic so WHY DOESN’T SHE FACEBOOK FRIEND ME?!?!”
Paging Dr. Freud, paging Dr. Freud, please RT.
PC World columnist Keith Shaw has identified a few maladies particular to social media which he listed in Top 5 Social Network Disorders:
But lately I've been able to identify some new emotional and psychological conditions that can be tied directly to my usage of social media over the past few years ... Unrequited Twitter Love (or UTL): The emotional state created by writing a really good Tweet or Facebook status update, but then having it crushed when nobody responds, "likes", replies or retweets your brilliant update.
He goes on to describe Obsessive/Compulsive News Feed Checking, Mayor Hogging, Commentitis (a compulsion to add meaningless comments to statuses and posts, just to give your avatar something to say) and Twambivalence (simply not caring about a post).
Whether we were plenty neurotic or not before logging on, I think it’s entirely true that our social media tools have prompted some accompanying neuroses to emerge. I’ve noticed a few others. Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
Generalized Twanxiety -- Are you ever plagued with thoughts of anxiety about your Twitter behavior, wondering if you tweet too much, too little, inappropriately, to the detriment of your productivity, and yet you stare at the box with nothing to say, knowing you need to log-off … but what if you miss something???
@dentity Disorder -- You chat casually with friends, formally with employers and your doctor, somewhere in between with Aunt Jo, Granny and your cousins, and have an entirely different names and voices for your 3 different blogs. Do you jump between 8 different accounts, switching wigs as you switch screennames, or just maintain one Facebook account where your personalities can either merge or melt together like 64 Crayolas in the backseat of a minivan in a theme park parking lot?
Twamnesia -- Have you ever been busted for telling partners, colleagues and friends how hard you’ve been working, forgetting that they were likely fully aware that you spent the day learning British slang and playing #ifdinosaurswerethestars (Street Car Named Dulce de Leche), the evening live-tweeting three-timezones worth of satellite broadcasts of #RHONJ and then in the wee hours playing the role of Janet in an impromptu blip.fm Rocky Horror Twitter Show before Twitpicing a real-time series on how to make silver dollar pancakes, nom nom nom.
SMaranoia -- Specific discomfort or broadbased fear that people will feel neglected if you don’t “like” their status or join their Twitter party, that people have plotted to ignore your Tweets en masse, that they will know you didn’t follow them even though Twitter recommended them to you -- and hey, why did Twitter recommend them to you, are your enemies controlling that function and making you confront their avatars and why are you seeing ads for cleavage Botox, is that targeted to you because of those BlogHer photos on Flickr, they must be targeted to you!? It's a conspiracy!!!
So what is a sick So-Me addict to do? Is there a cure or a remedy for these disorders? Probably not, just like all neurotic expressions, we probably can feel better by focusing more on coping and on gaining confidence than by looking for a cure. We might not really want a cure, anyway. Freud said, "Neurotics complain of their illness, but they make the most of it, and when it comes to talking it away from them they will defend it like a lioness her young."
We could simply decide to embrace our social media neuroses, knowing that they are part of the brilliance we’re soaking in. As Proust wrote: "Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions, and composed our masterpieces. Never will the world know all it owes to them, nor all they have suffered to enrich us."
Masterpieces, Facebook status posts. Same difference.
Have you noticed any Facebook frenzies or Twitter manias of your own? Gosh, I hope -- really, really hope -- you have and that you comment and that you like this post. I’m just going to hide under my laptop compulsively clicking on this URL until I see if you’ve added a comment so that I'm not all vulnerable and alone here, not that I want you to add one just to make me feel better, but maybe you will. We’re friends, right? Right? RIGHT?!!
Contributing Editor Deb Rox is a big, big follower/fan/groupie of Jung. It’s kind of co-dependent, really--she’ll retweet anything he tells her to and solicitously namedrops him all the time on her blog. Sometimes I worry about her. Especially when I write bio notes about her using the third person and midway through the bio note I realize she’s me. Poor thing.
More from entertainment