“Twitter Psychosis”: I Call #Bullshit
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“Twitter Psychosis”: I Call #Bullshit

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A piece in The Daily Dot addresses the potential harm of the provocative, yet medically inaccurate, title of a recent article published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: “Twitter Psychosis: A Rare Variation or a Distinct Syndrome?” The gist of the author’s plea is that the term “Twitter Psychosis” is nothing more than a sound bite—a really good sound bite that has all the makings of going viral and inducing widespread panic amongst those who care for the mentally ill. And it shouldn’t because it isn’t real. While the title will definitely grab your attention, people need to know that one girl’s breakdown allegedly brought on by her Twitter addiction does not a condition make.

Social Media Mania

Although most of us enjoy conveniences that technological advancements of the 21st century provide, there is no denying that we pay a price for living during the time of smart phones and social media. Several studies conducted as of late show a connection between depression and social media—like the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease’s report on a woman they refer to as “Mrs. C,” a 31-year old who was committed to a psych ward due to paranoid delusions involving her Twitter feed; now the concern is that a constant stream of often cryptic, 140-character updates from around the globe might actually make a person go crazy. And The Daily Dot author makes a great point: it’s more likely that Mrs. C’s predisposed mental illness was triggered by Twitter than the fact that Twitter itself that made her lose her mind.

For the sake of objectivity, I am going to put aside the author calling the 31-year old case study “almost middle-aged” because that line itself nearly put me in a psych ward. But as someone who battles depression, has alcoholism and whose preferred form of social media is Twitter, I feel qualified to speak on this subject.

Twi-enter with Caution

While I support the need for clarification that “Twitter Psychosis” is just a media ploy and not something anyone needs to actually be concerned about, I also support the warning that people who struggle with mental illness should maybe not be on social media sites like Twitter. Yes, I know, there are online forums dedicated to supporting a wide variety of mental and emotional health issues, as well as a slew of other proclivities that might otherwise manifest themselves in shame and self-hatred, but those online forums are not Twitter. With all due respect, Twitter is the antithesis of support. It’s one of the more self-involved platforms out there, second only to Instagram—where narcissism meets voyeurism. The idea that these sites have anything at all to do with support is a bigger scam than the title “Twitter Psychosis.”

I suppose Facebook is somewhat of a different story because of its “group” feature and the ability to have contained, back and forth, unrestricted character-count communication with like-minded people. But even though I can’t claim to know how lonely it feels to be a vegan Republican for pornography without a social media outlet, I do think that if you struggle with mental health in any form, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are slippery slopes that might not be worth it.

Refreshing a Feed of Poison

Another post I recently stumbled upon lists 12 toxic behaviors that push people away from you—nine of which are qualities created by or exasperated by social media. It’s a nice reminder that character defects like being envious of everyone else, taking everything too personally, lacking emotional self-control, making superficial judgments about others and needing constant validation are things that should be worked on and not indulged. And as the author points out, there are high-functioning alternatives to the more toxic social sites, like Tumblr and Reddit, where atheists who hate spaghetti and their mothers can go and not have to worry about stumbling into a vortex of various accomplishments of their ex-lover who is now married to the girl who was their BFF in high school who totally got fat.

In short, if you feel like social media is making you crazy, you may not be wrong.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.