Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Can you catch an illness through Facebook?

by Take Two®

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A woman uses her smart phone to acces Facebook, in Buenos Aires on March 15, 2012. The addiction to internet and social networks is increasingly becoming one of the most important reasons for consultation for addictions in health care centres in the country. JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images

Parents complain that kids waste a lot of time on Facebook when they should be doing homework. It's also often criticized for violating users' privacy.

Now there's speculation that Facebook and other social media sites might actually make people sick. 

In January, about two dozen teenagers at the Essex Agricultural and Technical School in Danvers, Massachusetts recently began having “mysterious” hiccups and vocal tics. Facebook is now considered a possible cause of these symptoms. 

New Zealand sociologist Robert Bartholomew told the Atlantic that there has been a recent upticks in conversion disorder, where psychological trauma manifests in physical symptoms. This disorder then become "contagious" through a phenomenon known colloquially as "mass hysteria," or scientifically as mass psychogenic illness (MPI).

Atlantic writer Laura Dimon joins the show to talk about her piece, which looks at the connection between recent incidents of mass hysteria and the rise of social media.

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