With the huge amount of research that surfaces each day, it is not surprising that the quality varies considerably. Sometimes, you actually have to wonder whether the researchers are having a joke at our expense. Dubious research coupled with the tendency to disease mongering and the creation of new conditions can lead to hilarious outcomes.
If this story had appeared on April first, it could easily be dismissed as an April fool joke. However, as it appeared at the end of June, it seems these researchers take themselves seriously. With straight faces, they warned that Australian teenagers are becoming text addicts and in turn, risk a “range of serious mental and physical disorders from depression to repetitive thumb syndrome”.
To help legitimize this nonsense, new terms have been created. “Textaphrenia” is defined as hearing texts arrive when they haven’t and constantly checking to see if a message has arrived. “Textity “is the anxiety felt when they haven’t received a text or are unable to send texts. Post traumatic text disorder are injuries that occur when texting such as walking into things and feeling depressed when people don’t contact them. Binge texting is sending lots of texts. One can only wonder who pays for this sort of research.
This sort of research can be easily dismissed as absolute nonsense. Clearly, texting, which is a relatively new phenomenon by human existence standards, can, like anything, can be taken to extremes by some individuals if they chose to do so. There is no disease entity involved in this. Unfortunately, creating terms like the ones above, allow people to make excuses for their behavior. One wonders if somebody crashes their car while texting will be able to claim that they were suffering from one of these text related conditions and offer that as an excuse.
Furthermore, it continues the trend to medicalise human behavior. Texting is a form of communication. In exactly the same way some people talk more than others, some people will send more texts than others. Some people have brown eyes and some have blue. None of these represent abnormalities or disease processes. Some people will over do activities be it texting, eating, drinking or any other form of human past time.
The solution to this is not to create fancy new medical terms and pseudo diseases. The answer will certainly not be in developing medications to control these non-existent diseases. The continued medicalisation of life is an invitation to people to not be responsible for their actions. The solution is in fact for people to take ownership of their behavior. If they send too many texts, then the simple solution is to send less. If you walk into walls while texting, then the solution is to look where you are going if you are not able to multitask.
Life can be actually fairly simple when researchers and academics are not involved.