Saturday, March 19, 2022

First World Maladies

Recently, I saw an article that described a new malady afflicting many folks these days: Phantom Vibration Syndrome. This is where people think their smart phone is ringing or vibrating when it’s really not. Apparently, a lot of people are so concerned about missing a call or text message that they’ve become extra aware of the sensation of their phone vibrating. They think they feel something, then reach into their pocket for the phone and are disappointed when it’s a false alarm. 

Wow, I can’t believe that condition now has an official sounding medical name. They could’ve gone with “Get-a-Life-itis.”
There are other health problems that did not exist 20 years ago, such as the condition known as Text Neck. This is when you get a stiff neck from having your head tilted downward all the time looking at your phone. This malady often is accompanied by a condition called Text Thumb, which is an inflammation of the tendons in the thumbs caused by the repetitive motion of typing hundreds of text messages each day.

Another medical issue is called Toasted Skin Syndrome. This occurs when a person uses a laptop computer for hours on end, and then discovers the tops of his or her thighs are irritated because of the heat emitted from the bottom of the computer.

I read about another modern health problem, but this one is not caused by digital devices. It is called Orthorexia Nervosa, and it is defined as an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. In other words, people who suffer from this condition are so focused on maintaining healthy eating habits, they worry themselves sick about the possibility of eating something tasty, er, I mean, unhealthy.

Oh no, what if a person only lives to age 88 instead of 89, because he accidentally ate a cheeseburger way back in 2022?
The only nutrition-related medical condition I’ve personally been diagnosed with is called Fruitpietus Nervosa, which is the fear of running out of Hostess Fruit Pies. It hasn’t been confirmed by a doctor yet, but I suspect I also might be afflicted with Reesesitus Nervosa, an obsession with making sure the house always has a sizable supply of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

This is just my opinion, but I’m starting to think our modern culture is getting kind of wimpy. These definitely are “First World” maladies. Back in the olden days, say, the 1800s, people didn’t think much about stiff necks or sore thumbs because they were too busy trying to avoid real illnesses, such as smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, and being crushed to death by industrial machinery. (Well, technically, that last one is not a disease, but it occurred so frequently back then it deserves to be on the list. Whenever a guy was squashed by a machine, the benevolent factory owner often would tell the grieving widow that he’s decided not to charge her for the cost of cleaning up her late husband’s blood. Talk about generosity!)

It’s not like we do not have any serious health issues to worry about nowadays. Close to a million Americans have died from or with COVID. Nearly 100,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses last year alone. And, of course, heart disease and cancer continue to wrack up startling mortality statistics month after month. Despite all this, the FWWs among us are causing medical professionals to come up with official names for cell phone related aches and pains. (What does FWW mean, you ask? First World Whiners.)
All these new maladies should be diagnosed by psychologists rather than medical doctors. And they all should be lumped together as a single affliction. I prefer the term “Get-a-Life-itis.”

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