I’ll Have the Usual, with a Side of Enissophobia

I have only a vague idea what psychiatric diagnoses I have, and I don’t really care; I’m not going to get any of this printed on a t-shirt.  My real complaint is that I’ve so often heard about other people’s experiences taking an psychology 101-type course where they had the wonderful (to me) opportunity to study every psychiatric illness on the book and self-diagnose themselves with everything under the sun.  The intro to psychology course at my school was reportedly not of this sort, and I eventually ended up in a chemistry class instead.

The chemistry class, incidentally, was at 8 AM in a winter term, and I finished it with 9 pages of notes, total, because I slept every single day.  I’m not sure what was going on, but I couldn’t stay awake, no matter what I tried in advance of the class to jolt myself into a conscious state; I primarily remember that the desks were the old-fashioned kind, and they were bolted to the floor (which didn’t stop me from passing out).  My course evaluation was an apology note for being disrespectful in the extreme.

I didn't have a cell phone in college, so pictures required a camera.  Therefore, I have little photographic proof I was there.  Here's some!

I didn’t have a cell phone in college (who did?), so pictures required a camera. Therefore, I have little photographic proof I was there. Here’s some!

But back to self-diagnosis.  I’ve done a post about this before (first entry here), but some things never change.  Age like fine wine.  Whatever.  You know, I do plan on getting around to a point here.

I was reading something that veered off on a tangent (very brief, but enough to distract me) about odd phobias; this, of course, sent me to the internet, where I felt sure I could find a very complete list of every phobia under the sun (yep).

Whatever actual diagnosis someone scribbles down, it’s not going to change the fact that it exists, whatever it’s being called at the moment.  The ones that you choose yourself (from a textbook or Dr. Google) are much more malleable and can be self-adjusted as necessary to compensate for any missing symptoms:  “I know it says you have to exhibit X, but you remember that time I did Y?  I think that counts.”

Clearly, I am halfway to a medical degree already.

Where is this going?  Enissophobia:  fear of criticism.  [Note:  I somewhat doubt it’s very officially recognized; information is scant and varies— just bear with me.]

When I originally found this word on a phobias list (let’s see, ten minutes ago), it didn’t list the sin component; apparently, this “fear of criticism” often involves having committed an unpardonable and unnameable sin, a fear thought to stem from a religious background.  [3/4 way to medical degree]

This is still going to work.

The number of articles about people breaking down their social media personas (generally perfect but untrue) and presenting the reality instead seems higher lately (or maybe it’s just my sometimes-sporadic reading of Facebook, which has often caused me to miss things; I thought Honey Boo Boo was a fictitious character for an unreasonably long time).

Moving on.  When I finally became aware of Timehop not long ago, I did get it on the “it’s free, could be interesting” basis– and it is interesting.  I’ve been using Facebook for just over five years; I broke down when I created the page for where I was working (and figured I should screw up my own first).

What’s really interesting is the shift in realizing that this is not particularly a forum that’s effective for promoting politics; those once-frequent posts eventually crash out of existence.  My life is more peaceful for it– not so much because of fear of criticism, though.  It’s because of not being able to speak to people in person and have anything resembling the back-and-forth of a natural conversation.

Also, apparently most news is now delivered in the form of memes.

The fear of criticism is worse (at least for me) when it involves the personal.  When I abandoned the once-common political posts, I was still trying to figure out what Facebook is for— particularly if you lack much in the way of an exciting life or the energy to concoct one (and I’m still not sure about this one).

Positive news or something funny is always better received than something negative, which does make sense.  I do wonder, though, how much self-censorship is going on because of fear of criticism:  spoken, thought, or implied.  If you commit the unpardonable sin of not appearing happy (for something other than a really good, logical reason), then does it carry the fear that you’re inviting criticism of your decisions, the way you live life in general, your inability to appreciate a situation?  It certainly does for me.

Even public restrooms are ultra-polite.  What?  You take pictures there, too.  Admit it.

Even public restrooms are ultra-polite. What? You take pictures there, too. Admit it.

Any detail of your life you lay bare on social media– which is, of course, what I’m doing now– is something you’re potentially throwing to the lions (there’s that religion/sin thing again).  Many people say that the alternative is to disconnect completely, but I’m not sure that’s actually solving the problem; it’s avoiding it.  Put another way:  if something very specific triggers a negative reaction, you will probably not be counseled to resolve this by avoiding whatever it is at all costs.  Instead, exposure therapy, coping skills, or something similar will probably come up.

Please note that I am not advocating social media exposure therapy as a new clinical methodology.

I don’t have any answers at all, in fact.  Zero.  None.  What I am wondering is why and how social media has evolved into something that provokes a fear of criticism.  I know that presenting a certain self on social media isn’t a new observation; what I’m wondering is if this is the new new cultural unpardonable sin, to open yourself to criticism:  not even necessarily of a political or other unpopular opinion but of your 24/7 life.

Hey, look!  This is something I found entertaining!  Mi vida loca!

Hey, look! This is something I found entertaining! Mi vida loca!  (And I will someday be thrown out of a store for photographing things I find hilarious but have no intention of buying.  Until then . . . .)

I don’t have any current plans to disconnect.  Knowing myself, the best I can do is try to be less paranoid about criticism (and that will probably not go so well; I’m already worrying about hitting “publish”).

But I do wonder if the prevalence of enissophobia has increased steadily with the rise in social media.


Please use this space for Profound Thoughts or Utter Nonsense.

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