Brian Meeks has delusions of novelist, which he feeds by writing the Henry Wood Detective series (Available soon and on his blahg)

Kathryn sat at her desk watching her Twitter stream on TweetDeck.  There were a couple of people talking about a movie; she hesitated to jump in, because she had been watching for while. It always stressed her out, to feel like a lurker.

Her spawn had been put to bed an hour ago.  She felt like they didn’t appreciate her for hosting the little parasites for nine months, but she loved them.  Her husband was lightly snoring on the couch, while ESPN droned on in the background.

A quick check of Gmail revealed a bevy of stuff in the inbox.  A message from Groupon didn’t interest her, so she deleted it.  A few bits of spam were trashed too.  Then she saw it, from FB, “Mrs. Robinson, you have been tagged in a photo.” The anxiety she had felt at watching the Twitter stream now seemed trivial.  She couldn’t move, her right hand hovered over the mouse, afraid to click.  If it was from Lucy, she might kill her.  It was.

At least three people had already seen it.

The photo of her, from the bachelorette party, showed her draped across a young lacrosse player from Wisconsin.  You couldn’t see her face, but you could see his hand examining the fabric on her skirt, which had ridden up enough to expose her rather saucy stockings underneath.  It was obvious they were either a couple of close talkers, heatedly discussing politics, or were in fact kissing like rabid teenagers.

Her friend said, “coo coo ca choo.” Kathryn didn’t laugh.  Her head was swirling with angst, and she could hear Simon and Garfunkel, from somewhere deep in her mind.  Her friends Teri and Robert gave thumbs ups.  She was mortified.

Has this happened to you?  Do you suffer from SMSD, or Social Media Stress Disorder? The symptoms vary between people and genders.  Males often find heightened anxiety when receiving ‘friend requests’ from hot Russian brides seeking grooms.  Women have been driven to reckless chocolate bingeing, after trying to keep up with dozens of blogs, while sending out #FollowFriday.

In a recent issue of Psychology Tomorrow Afternoon, Dr. Tweety McTweeterson, explains, “It starts out innocently enough.  A person gets a Facebook account and reconnects with a few friends from college.  They enjoy the daily updates, but soon find that they need more.  Facebook is a gateway social media tool.  When Facebook no longer feeds their social media buzz, they turn to Twitter (the crack of social media).  At first, it is confusing, but soon they have 40 or 50 followers and are getting to know their new friends.  After a few months, they find themselves spending more and more time on Twitter, until one day they discover TweetDeck.  It is all downhill from there.  The addict is tweeting at all hours, often carrying on three or four conversations at once.  They are hooked.”

Warning signs:

  1. Do you check your twitter stream the moment you wake, worried you might have missed something?
  2. Does it hurt your feelings when friends and family look at you with a combination of pity and concern, when you excitedly told them you now had 1,000 followers?
  3. Have you retweeted a celebrity tweet with delusions that they give a damn?
  4. Have you crossed out Reese Witherspoon and the cast of Glee, as the stars you would most like to meet, and replaced them with Gini Dietrich and Shonali Burke?
  5. Do offers of free iPad 2 make you scream at your monitor with howler monkey angst?
  6. Have you checked your Klout score today and felt sad that it went down?  (Go on, admit it, nobody will know.)

If any of these sound familiar, you may be vulnerable to SMSD.  The attacks can be brutal, leading to feelings of nerdiness with light bouts of geekiness.  Under no circumstance should you try to talk about it with your family or friends, as you will be mocked, making the situation worse.  Take comfort in the fact that one day, they will all be on Twitter, coming to you for advice and jealously coveting your enormous Klout.  (Which is not a euphemism, though it should be.)

This disease is relative new, having been invented two nights ago, on Twitter.  We are still researching possible symptoms.  If you know someone who suffers from SMSD or have symptoms to add, please mention them in the comments.

See you on Twitter


Brian Meeks has delusions of novelist, which he feeds by writing the Henry Wood Detective series (Available soon and on his blahg). When the economy went south, he turned to social media and does this to feed and clothe himself.  In his free time, he does… well… social media… and publishes the Extremely Average. He can be reached on Twitter or by carrier pigeon at the house with the big tree out front.