The Dreaded Affluenza Virus

Influenza dominates the news these days, but you're much more likely to be afflicted with affluenza this time of year.

That's right, affluenza -- a mental health disease that is known to affect mental processing and logic functions. It is particularly strong in the Northern Hemisphere between November 24 and December 25.

To find out if you are in danger, take the Affluenza Risk Assessment  by answering True or False to the following questions:

1. I'm willing to pay more for a t-shirt if it has a cool corporate logo on it.
2. I believe that if I buy the cocktail dress, the cocktail party will come.
3. I have a shoe collection Imelda Marcos would envy.
4. When I'm cold, I take my clothes off and turn up the heat.
5. I'm willing to work 40 years at a job I hate so I can buy lots of stuff.
6. When I'm feeling blue, I like to go shopping and treat myself.
7. I want an SUV although I rarely drive in conditions that warrant one.
8. I usually make just the minimum payment on my credit cards.
9. I believe that whoever dies with the most toys wins.
10. Most of the things my friends/family and I enjoy doing together are free.
11. I don't measure my self-worth (or that of others) by what I own.
12. I know how to pinch a dollar until it screams.
13. I worry about the effects of advertising on children.
14. To get to work, I carpool, ride my bike or use public transportation.
15. I'd rather be shopping right now.

For questions 1-9 and 15, give yourself 2 points for true and 1 point for false.
For questions 10-14, give yourself 0 points for true and 2 points for false.

If you scored:
10-15 No dangerous signs of Affluenza at this time.
16-22 Warning: You have mild Affluenza.
23-30 Cut up your credit cards and call a mental health professional (or your mother).

There are a number of vaccines available, both of which require nothing more than spending between 20 and 60 minutes in front of your computer, which you're obviously doing anyway. I recommend starting off slowly, with the 20-minute Story of Stuff video. Suitable for all ages, the Story of Stuff traces the path of consumer products and its effects on our physical environment and our mental health. You should watch it just because Glenn Beck says you shouldn't.

For a booster shot, move on to the 60-minute PBS special entitled Affluenza. (To do so you'll need to either purchase the video from Bullfrog Films or download the free VEOH web player which takes just a minute or two.)

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