Social Nutworking and The Future Of Mental Illness

June 13, 2012 Alistair McHarg

Mental illness is a vibrant, evolving discipline that is never the same two days in a row. The skilled professionals in our midst are continually wrestling disorders and syndromes to the ground, subduing them, and teaching the rest of us how to deny them a second chance.

But, to paraphrase Zig Zigler, “Every time a window slams shut on your fingers, a trap door to the basement opens.” In other words, mental illnesses are leaving us all the time, but new ones are always emerging to take their place. Indeed, without a steady stream of newly minted mental illnesses producing an endless succession of chat show guests, virtually all TV hosts would be unemployed.

While the traditional wellsprings of mental illness may still be relied upon, forward thinking psychiatrists, pharmaceutical companies, and tattoo parlors are looking to social networking – dubbed “social nutworking” by insiders – as the greatest growth area for psychological disorders in years to come.

Here are just two of the newly minted mental disorders resulting from our cultural obsession with water-skiing squirrels.

Poly-Profile-Disintegration Disorder (PPDD)

As the list of available social websites increases, many users are establishing and maintaining multiple identities (aliases) spread out across a diverse array of disparate sites. This is fine, naturally. But mental health professionals have noticed that, for a sub-set of individuals engaging in “social site polymorphism” – things can slip out of control and become very unpleasant.

When competing pseudo-identities from diverse websites begin to battle for dominance, actively undermine credibility, and deliberately spread malicious gossip, many different types of feelings are hurt. (In one noteworthy case, two different Facebook pages created by the same individual actually contacted Facebook tech support claiming that they were inherently incompatible.)

Self-Envy-Loathing-Syndrome (SELS)

It is well understood that for many, social networking sites are where people go to reinvent themselves as the people they would like to be. Then, they attempt to sell their preposterous fictions to others. These others, busy foisting preposterous fictions of their own, are generally unmoved – since the overriding quality of social networking sites is obliviousness to others. However, the original posters do review their own carefully constructed fairy tales. At first they are pleased by how authentic they seem. Then, dangerously, they are drawn into the web. As bad goes to worse, they become obsessed with their “alter-life” – stunned by the splendor of it. Finally, the syndrome reveals its tragic, twisted denouement. The poster becomes pathologically jealous of the imaginary life he claims to be having, and nurtures a deep resentment towards the “other him”. At this point, “accidentally cutting one’s self while shaving” is not unlikely.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2012, June 13). Social Nutworking and The Future Of Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg
June, 14 2012 at 12:45 am

Now an iconic web character.

June, 13 2012 at 6:18 pm

Hi. Love the water skiing squirrel! Have a great week.

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