Written by Joanne Lau


Doctor, Doctor

From Boughtulism to Selfalgia, Joanne Lau ponders the new wave of diseases that are harshing our modern mellows.

Illustration by Louise Boulter

There’s something wrong with you. Your manic WebMD browsing may not have been able to diagnose anything other than mild hypochondria, but you’re sure you have something. What if it just doesn’t have a name yet? The following is a list of novel conditions doctors are reporting with increasing frequency around the globe. This is the new wave of modern disease. Catch it before it goes mainstream.

Acoustic-Induced Rabies
When an unnecessary cover or remix of a song causes uncontrollable rage, foaming at the mouth and an inexplicable fear of water.

Acute Inboxication
Replying to emails after the consumption of alcohol. Often comorbid with Boughtulism, the rash purchase of unnecessary goods one would not otherwise need while in a rational state of mind.
“I’m going to tell him how I really feel… but first I need to buy this jumpsuit.”

Automatically Challenged
A serious disorder in which the presenting patient is unable to operate automatic sensors, or is able to do so only with difficulty. They often report feelings of distress when faced with automatic doors, toilets, taps and hand dryers. Sufferers experience feelings of self-doubt or invisibility and in extreme cases undergo an existential crisis.

Coffee Blindness
The inability or decreased ability to differentiate between a latte, a flat white and a cappuccino.

A compulsion to read the comments section of all current events articles or opinion pieces while one is browsing one’s favourite websites. This leads to distress, confusion and noticeable hair loss. Commentillomanics often know that reading the comments will make them anxious about the state of the world and the mental health of people in general, but can’t stop themselves from doing it anyway. Episodes can last for hours at a time.

Congenital Tweetfect
A condition whereby sufferers experience an inability to “get” Twitter.

Common questions from sufferers include:

“But how is that different from a Facebook status?”
“So I just follow them?”

A neurological disorder of the speech centres that sees patients struggle to say they are performing any activity without irony.
The primary presenting symptom of dysironiphasics is an inability to answer with anything other than, “Yes, but ironically” to the following questions:
“Are you wearing a beret?”
“Are you listening to short-lived Canadian boy band B4-4?”
“Are you trying to adopt that cat?”

The Facebookpause
The cessation of a woman’s Facebook account signalling the end of the fertile phase of her timewasting. This is sometimes referred to as “the change of life”. Side effects of The Facebookpause may include anxiety, night sweats, rapid heartbeat and a dramatic increase in work productivity and “time for things”.

Generalised Meryl Streep Anxiety Disorder
Characterised by a fear while watching awards shows that someone is going to make a joke that requires a live reaction from Meryl Streep.

An infectious disease caught through close contact online with a partner who can only express their emotions through gifs. Immediate reaction to the diagnosis can often involve a pug or David Tennant standing in the rain. Though gifilis cannot be spread by using the same toilet as an infected person, it is recommended not to share their Tumblrs.

Characterised by the inability to make it through a single television programme or film without looking up something on IMDB.
Acute symptoms include exclaiming:
“I wonder what Chris O’Donnell is up to these days?”
“OMG, that’s Gary Oldman?!”

A bout of severe pain and spasming of the facial muscles from holding a smile for too long while someone is trying to position their phone to include everyone in a selfie. May also be caused by a contraction of the orbicularis oris muscle in an aquatic bird-like fashion for prolonged periods.

A long-term, gradual decrease in the ability to comprehend flavours of herbal tea. Common symptoms include difficulties understanding what “Relax” is made from, and emotional confusion concerning the taste of “Women’s Energy”.

An inflammation of one’s urge to put off watching a TV show everyone keeps going on about. Symptoms are exacerbated by any of the following statements:
“So the girlfriend and I started Breaking Bad this weekend…”
“Sorry, that’s a reference from The Wire.”
“Is it pronounced Lee-na or Lay-na?”
“Five stars. The Guardian.”

A not entirely undeserved muscle weakness caused by shouting “YOLO!” followed by making terrible life choices.

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Written by Joanne Lau

Joanne Lau is that tired-looking Chinese-Canadian girl on the tube scribbling in her notebook and staring into space a lot.