The Disease that Spreads Through Facebook


1. the sickness/delusional belief that one can affect meaningful change in another human in the course of a Facebook thread, either by superior logic, snarky comments, demeaning attacks, or linking to a particularly life-changing recipe on Pinterest

a. characterized by self-righteousness, argumentativeness, or the lack of understanding that Facebook users:
1. inextricably link their profiles to their own persons (ie “Look at me! This is who I am! This is what I do!”)
2. are legally bound NOT to ever use the phrases, “Good point,” “I was wrong,” or “I take it back”
3. think cheesy pictures with slightly altered cliches constitute a well-formed argument

b. usually also accompanied by a lack of awareness that Facebook itself:
1. is set up in a way that escalates conflict through the use of notifications of ongoing comments
2. draws others to the fray by use of the newsfeed (ie Jane commented on Sam’s status: “You’re an idiot”)
3. discourages people from unfriending because if they do, the person they want to unfriend will no longer see the spiteful comments meant for them to see.

Side effects include: high blood pressure, hatred towards high school friends who hold different political views, excessive time spent on the internet, the feeling that the world is “going to hell in a handbasket,” broken computer mouses, carpal tunnel syndrome, fingernails bitten down to the quick.

Related diseases:
– Argumentitis
– Blogpostinfluentosis (the likes of which the writer of this post may or may not be suffering from)

13 Replies to “The Disease that Spreads Through Facebook”

  1. The best treatment I’ve found for Facebookthreadinfluentiosis was DeactivateAccountis. All symptoms cleared up in about 2-3 weeks.

    Side effects of DeactivateAccountis include: decrease in hours staring at a glowing screen, less stress, more intentional internet browsing, finding out important information through real-life encounters and conversations, and less comparing of my life to other people’s perfectly portrayed online personification.

    1. Important research, Clint. We’ll add your findings to the medical journals. We’re especially interested in the long-term effects of disengaging from social media as a vaccine.

  2. Thanks for sending out this critical alert! I’ve found that bouts of this disease are also characterized by a certain Pavlov’s-dog-like response to notifications…the afflicted gets a thrill every time a red flag pops up on their screen, often to the neglect of responsibilities and daily activities outside the screen.

  3. I hate how the ticker and newsfeed broadcasts posts despite what your privacy settings are. I’d rather apologize than win an argument or debate. I am learning that not everyone has that sentiment, and it is best to leave a matter alone.

    When to speak up? How to speak up (forums, posts, etc.)? It is frustrating. Thanks for this post!

  4. Ha… creatively written and yet so true. I would add that another common symptom is overall negativity, and that this negativity is highly contagious to others. So Facebook users beware.

    To Stephanie’s Pavlov-dog idea – that’s exactly right. I manage my time well in some areas (i.e. only checking email in the beginning, at lunch, and at the end of the day) … but I have no such setup for Facebook/Twitter, and I find myself easily distracted by them.

    Also easily distracted by good blog posts (via Facebook/Twitter) such as these, so I’m disciplining myself to get back to work. Was that a bell I just heard?

  5. I have been in need of a cure on several occasions for sure! Thanks for this Shawn. Also, I’m a sucker for humor like this. Well done.

  6. Thanks, Ed. My Facebook friend Jason (who is a therapist in Canada and asks me a lot of good questions) talked me down last night. He also helped me to realize I have a problem with anger. Who knew?

  7. This diagnosis also applies to message boards, particularly any that in any way reference a particular celebrity. I’ve seen friendships end over quibbles about a pop star. It wasn’t pretty . . . or fun. :p

  8. Over from Glynn’s

    I don’t do Facebook — but I’ve seen the reciprocal effect. I love how you put the essential problems of it in such a simple format.

    Nicely done.

  9. Facebook is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Whatever happened to fun anyway? It’s seems all been swallowed up by ego and ambition. CS Lewis wrote something really clever about that in Screwtape Letters about how that the enemy tries to take every simple pleasure and distort into a lofty purpose that we can take pride in. Like winning arguments on facebook.

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