A dangerous TikTok trend has accumulated high engagement over the social media app. The invisible illness, 'spoonies,' has become a generated hashtag that influences teenagers to activate a hidden level of anxiety. Experts have grown a cause for concern over the theory, considering the worrying effects on these users.
TikTok should be a happy place to laugh out loud at the best viral videos. Still, it is no secret there is a dark side to the app. Considering previous incidents where harmful trends have impacted younger children, leading to unfortunate fatalities, it is no surprise health specialists have this trend on red alert. The theory has been labeled the 'spoon theory.' The term 'spoonie' was allegedly coined in 2003, where "a spoon equates to energy." Users have started to post videos of them crying either in a room or hospital room, which has gained thousands of likes. Some of the 'spoonies' victims have MS and Crohn's disease, while others suffer from "rarer ones which are harder to diagnose such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)." Dr. Mark Sullivan, a psychiatrist at the University of Washington Medical Center, has expressed worry over internet influences, creating "communities of grievance," resulting in patients adopting "victim mentalities."
Teenage users have come together to create an encouraging force on them to lie to doctors "to get the diagnosis they want." Disturbing videos have received support via the comment section, while some of these "functional disorders" don't have a physical cause, cure, or diagnostic tests. Moreover, victims claimed their doctors advised them to lose weight, dubbing this as "medical gaslighting." They continue to argue about being misdiagnosed, craving a diagnosis that would explain their heightened physical and emotional reactions. But unfortunately, others are using it to their advantage; becoming involved with other patient-doctor relationships, and making money by promoting supplements. Morgan Cooper, diagnosed with median arcuate ligament syndrome, told Commonsense, "I had one video just called 'I'm Sick' and the thumbnail was me crying... On Instagram, whenever I would post a picture of me looking sad, or with pills in my hand, or in a wheelchair, it would get like 2,000 likes." The growth in footage and support has spread the 'community' to other social media platforms, where they would message "about the negative things in their lives."
@berkleycollins What's a girl to do #healthcare #endo #rupture #spoonie ♬ original sound - Berkley Collins
With TikTok specifically, while initially created for fun purposes, a substantial number of users have a worrying influence. Victims have admitted to getting "addicted to being sad, and sick, and the attention you receive. The 'misery loves company' thing makes you sicker." It is vital to remind ourselves to disengage from this content as quickly as possible. Stay safe and enjoy TikTok for its amusing purpose.