6 New Personality Disorders Caused by the Internet

The Internet makes people crazy. We all know this. The guy on the message board who just called you a shitclown for owning a different video game console than him probably would have been perfectly polite had you met in real life.

In fact, we're thinking it's time they updated the psychological diagnostic manuals with this list of new disorders that only seem to kick in once the person opens a web browser.

#6. Online Intermittent Explosive Disorder (a.k.a. The Thin-Skinned Rage-o-holic)

Like serial killers, these people seem pretty normal at first. For hours or even days, they'll carry on funny, charming conversations in a forum or comment section. But then something, anything, sets him off and he devolves into a tantrum that would make Christian Bale say, "Dude, calm down! Jesus."

In Real Life it's Called...

Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

Out in the real world, IED is an impulse control disorder that can make a person act like their entire family has been murdered just because Burger King forgot to put their fries in the bag. They're prone to fits of uncontrollable rage in situations that don't call for it.

This guy just found out the movie he wanted to go to is sold out.

And while it only affects around six percent of people in real life, on the Internet you run into one of these in almost every comment section. And nothing sets them off like a mild hit to their ego:

IED Guy: Hey guys I made this Photoshop, can I get some constructive criticism?
Normal poster: You might want to cut six or seven of the lens flares.

(This continues for 2,000 words or so).

A simultaneously hilarious and disturbing example of this made internet headlines in mid-June, when somebody emailed a congressman's office and accidentally referred to his assistant Elizabeth as "Liz," prompting an explosion of 19 furious emails in which Elizabeth demanded that she be called by her full name.

So Why Does it Happen on the Internet?

First, there's the obvious: Most of us suppress our real-life spurts of rage for fear of getting punched in the face by the person we're screaming at. Second, on the Internet, where your looks, job, income and fancy clothes won't buy you any respect, some people seem to think they have to protect their reputation like an old west gunslinger: shooting down anybody who calls them out.

But then there's the third, and least obvious reason, which is that without tone of voice and body language, it's hard to convey mere annoyance or mild anger, without the fear that the person you're conveying it to just plain won't notice. So they think they have to crank it up to a 10 every time they're crossed, even if they don't mean it.

That's probably the weirdest part, that these people who are SCREAMING INSULTS IN ALL CAPS are often at the same time sitting in a cubicle somewhere, sipping coffee and conversing pleasantly with the person next to them.

#5. Low Forum Frustration Tolerance (a.k.a. The Frantic Browser Reloader)

This is the guy who makes a new thread, knowing he's just written the absolutely perfect post. A post that should be heralded across the Internet for its beauty, comedy and insight. It is such a good post that the guy is checking every five seconds to see if there is a new response. If he gets a response he quickly dashes out his own reply that will appear half a second later.

If there are no responses to his perfect post then he will wait an eternity of five minutes before replying to his own thread with, "What, nobody has a comment? Helloooo???"

You may also find this guy submitting stories to news portals like Digg and Reddit, losing an entire workday hitting Refresh (or F5) over and over, waiting for somebody, anybody, to digg up his submission.

In Real Life it's Called...

Low Frustration Tolerance.

LFT is defined as a person seeking immediate gratification or the avoidance of immediate pain. At first this sounds like the behavior of any whiny seven-year-old who wants a toy and will scream and pump his fat little arms until he gets what he wants. But unlike a kid, a quick smack to the back of the head won't shut this guy up.

Someone with LFT is so obsessed with their current project that everything else in their life stops. It's actually a form of procrastination, the obsession with that (often utterly inconsequential) object allows them to neglect their work, or girlfriend, or their dog that shits in the corner of the bedroom because it hasn't been walked in the last 10 hours.

So Why Does it Happen on the Internet?

There never has been an engine for instant gratification like the Internet. Our parents thought television killed our attention spans, but hell, with TV you still had to wait for the shows to come on, and they played at their own pace. On the Internet, the videos start when you fucking tell them to. If they don't, off to another site. It's like a faucet: you turn the knob and you expect an immediate flow of lolcats.

It trains all of us to be impatient. And it's easy for the impatient to start looking at fellow posters or Diggers as just more pieces of content, morsels that need to be delivered the instant we want them. And why wouldn't we? This is a place where we can get a girl to strip for us on a webcam for like three bucks.

#4. Munchausen by Internet (a.k.a. The Sob Story Teller)

These are the people who lurk around innocently enough, and then, one day, tragedy strikes. Their dog, or parent, or maybe a close friend died. Maybe the poster themselves found out they have a terminal disease. And unless you're on 4chan, the group will generally rally around and shower them with sympathy. You send this person your prayers and well wishes, maybe a few dozen kitten pictures and you hope they will get through it.

Then, a few months later, another tragedy strikes them. Their best friend was raped, or paralyzed in an accident, or both. A few months after that, their father dies. Again.

"I can't wait to tell the Internet."

Soon it becomes apparent that they are either living under an ancient Egyptian curse, or they're making it all up.

It's so common that somebody else has already coined the sarcastic term for it: Munchausen by Internet.

In Real Life it's Called...

Munchausen Syndrome.

The basis of need here is the same as the attention-seekers above, only these people will only settle for the positive and sympathetic attention that comes with being sick or some other kind of distress. You know, without the whole "actually being sick" thing to bog them down.

Yeah, my house is on fire right now, it totally sucks.

In real life they can keep it up for years, because society doesn't make it easy to be skeptical in these situations. If you cast doubt on them and then later discover it was in fact true, suddenly you're the biggest douche on the planet.

So Why Does it Happen on the Internet?

As easy as it is to pull off in real life, it's 10 time easier online where there's no simple way to fact-check the claims. So it doesn't take a balls-out liar or con man to pull it off. Hell, all you need to do is know how to type, and you have access to that same outpouring of sympathy all Munchausen sufferers get addicted to.

A famous case of cyberMuching was that of Kaycee Nicole, a 19-year-old with Leukemia who turned out to have been created by 40-year-old Debbie Swenson. The Kaycee character posted daily for two years in a online journal about her struggle to live with her illness. She then "died" and only when there was no funeral people did people figure out it had all been a hoax.

And even then, Swenson could keep doing it elsewhere if she so pleased. She may be out doing it right now. On the anonymous Internet, you can create a dozen different characters and when one of them starts to get boring the "parent" can just kill them off. This is clinically known as the LOST approach.

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