RICHMOND, Va. — Despite knowing a decent amount of the city’s population, sources close to you confirmed that you definitely recognize that guy over there, but are at a complete loss as to from where. Is this random stranger a former high school classmate, the guy you nailed at your cousin’s wedding, your boss’s husband, or some combination of those things?
The phenomenon, known as facial recall disorder, causes frequent stress and anxiety as individuals push themselves to near hysteria to connect a face with a name in hopes of avoiding social embarrassment. Experts say that more than 20 million people each year fall victim to the disorder.
“In spite of the fact that Richmond metro region is home to 1.2 million people, most people live in a bubble and their daily lives are filled with the same 200 faces,” Richard Goddley, a researcher at the Virginia Department of Mental Health Services, said. “Every now and then, someone from our past enters that bubble and our synapses sometimes struggle to make the right connections.”
Cases of facial recall disorder have increased dramatically over the last 15 years. Many experts blame the pervasiveness of social media for the spike as people have an increasing number of meaningless social interactions. “The average Tinder user can see more than 36,000 additional faces every year just from swiping,” Goddley said.
While social media might be the cause of Facial Recall Disorder, it might also be the cure.
Experts advise using social media to jog your memory when you can’t remember if the rando over there used to date your friend Crystal or is the creepy coworker that got fired for stealing toilet paper. Other recommended strategies involve consistently looking at the floor and wearing AirPods to avoid potentially awkward situations; this is generally solid advice for minimizing all social interaction.
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