How often have you blamed your Facebook friends for figuratively making you sick to your stomach with their narcissism and oversharing? According to the New York Times, your Facebook feed could be making you literally ill as well.
The condition is called cybersickness or digital motion sickness, and medical experts insist that it’s become increasingly common.
“It’s a fundamental problem that’s kind of been swept under the carpet in the tech industry,” explained Cyriel Diels, a cognitive psychologist and human factors researcher at Coventry University’s Center for Mobility and Transport in England. “It’s a natural response to an unnatural environment.”
The condition causes symptoms similar to those caused by seasickness and is triggered when a person watches fast-moving digital content, for example, quickly swiping through your Instagram or Twitter newsfeed.
“Your sense of balance is different than other senses in that it has lots of inputs,” said Steven Rauch, a professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. “When those inputs don’t agree, that’s when you feel dizziness and nausea.”
Studies suggest that cybersickness can affect 50 to 80 percent of people, and is more prevalent among women and those with “Type A” personalities.
With the exception of causing some mild discomfort, one would think that cybersickness is fairly harmless; however, experts fear that it can have some pretty serious consequences. One concern is that a person may get behind the wheel while suffering from visual impairments after playing hours of video games. Another concern is that scrolling recklessly through a social media newsfeed may alter a person’s equilibrium causing them to trip or fall.