Have you ever noticed how many diseases have seemingly cropped up in the past few decades? You know, those illnesses that sound a little too specific to be believable, like Restless Leg Syndrome. Not to downplay anyone that has circulatory problems, but there are a lot of diseases out there that sound made up, yet they’re shamelessly curable by drugs sold by large pharmaceutical companies.
Even if they don’t sound made up, there are some diseases that don’t have to be applied to everybody just so certain sects of the drug and medical field can prosper. Not every female is depressed, and not every kid needs to be on Ritalin.
You have to admit that some conditions simply become medicalized.
But if you take a historic perspective on the types of conditions that become popular in a way, there’s a correlation between the number of people that think they suffer from that condition, the number of doctors that prescribe medication, the amount of money pharma companies pour into research, development and marketing, and the amount of press that condition receives in the media. So you can make a fairly educated guess as to which condition will become medicalized in the future.
I just wonder when it will be social media’s turn.
We already saw it with television, and we’ve actually seen it with Internet usage as well. You’ve all seen the news reports of child obesity, violent behavior and several forms of social withdrawal linked to watching too much TV or spending too much time in front of the computer. But the true test of extreme medicalization of a given condition is how specific can you get, while still making it applicable to nearly any member of the general public. Social media? Bingo.
It fits all the criteria. Everyone partakes in social media, and some doctors working somewhere for some drug company can do enough research to convince other doctors, the media and the world at large that online social media is the very bane of our existence. Now take these pills four times daily.
There are already studies out there measuring the actual level of social interaction that can be carried on in an online environment, and how those interactions vary from the interactions witnessed in person-to-person interactions. This will eventually link back to a person’s mental health, liability towards antisocial developments and the general fear for the well-being of future generations.
They’ll lose out on all the value of, you know, the things we grew up with. Sonic the Hedgehog and Animaniacs. Things of that nature. And we’ll worry that their brains will melt and their muscles will atrophy. We’ll then turn to Pharmacia, Baxter, Glaxo Smith Klein and Eli Lily to tell us what to do about it. We’ll take pills that make us adverse to Internet socialization by speeding the headache-creating factors of staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Then we’ll return to the drug companies for something that will alleviate our headache so we can get right back to posting pictures on Facebook.
Oh, the vicious cycle of medicalized conditions.
As someone who sits in the house all day, in front of the computer and on the Internet, knee-deep in social media, I can give you the cure. Go outside and get some fresh air. Take a dip in the pool, eat lunch at an outdoor cafe (without your computer companion), walk your dog at the park and have a drink with some friends. Make sure your life is balanced.