Influencers with Tourette continuously rise to stardom.
It makes sense. The crazy tics, the unexpected outbursts, the controversial statements.
On social-media, shock value wins. And with that, Tourette is thriving.
Baylen Dupree, a 19 year old with Tourette, has gained a lot of attention with her Tik Tok account.
Many influencers are accused of being fakes and liars.
For those with the condition, these accusations are traumatising. For those that are faking it, it’s pretty hard to prove they are.
Afterall, Tourette is diagnosed by professionals by listening and seeing tics. It is difficult if not impossible to tell a genuine tic from a simulated one.
Saying that, it is always wise to give the benefit of the doubt. For that reason this article will go with the assumption Baylen has Tourette, but highlight some reasons why sufferers get doubted.
The Tourette Honeytrap
The beauty of stereotypes is that when someone wants to fake it as a sufferer, they do so with the false understanding Tourette is a ‘swearing disease‘.
Some fakers have walked this route and been exposed.
Social media is filled with accounts uploading their latest swearing tics. It is rather startling, considering that only 10% of sufferers swear.
90% of social media seems to be coprolalia and echolalia, begging the question:
Are many of these accounts faking it? Or do we only care about seeing the ones that swear?
It’s a lose-lose.
Tics changing depending on environment
It is interesting to notice that Baylen’s tics don’t involve swearing when on Dr. Phil, but on social media they are present.
The switch up of tics has led some Reddit users to speculate, whether she is fabricating them or at least- exaggerating them.
Tics can evolve depending on the situation, and can be supressed to a degree.
Baylen isn’t supressing tics with Dr Phil, they are coming out. It could be that she is able to suppress the tics she doesn’t want to do on Dr Phil, although this isn’t usually how Tourette syndrome works.
Despite some skepticism, she is receiving plenty of support online, from sufferers and non-sufferers alike.
Is the community too skeptical?
Fakers are one thing, but being branded as fake whilst suffering is another.
The nature of Tourette is a bizarre one. It is the very reason so many people search the hashtags and follow the accounts.
It only makes sense that the most extreme cases get picked up by the algorithm. And it makes sense that swearing tics gain the most attention.
The real problem? The false assumption that Tourette is a swearing disease remains.
It is easy to be skeptical of those we see getting the most views on social media. The algorithm’s do not favour a balanced view of Tourette, but what people want to see.
People want to see swearing, so the sufferers that swear do well. The perception that people with Tourette swear will remain until this is addressed.
Don't hate the player, hate the game
We cannot know for sure who is making it up, who is exaggerating, who is truly suffering. We just have to take their word for it.
If anyone, the social media companies should be held accountable. The same for media and news networks.
They decide what is ‘cool’. This then leads to big chunk of a small niche doing well, and making it seem like it is the norm. Will some people try to squeeze into that niche that had no interest previously? Probably.
If we seek to call out these companies and algorithms instead of the people that benefit from them, we wouldn’t be so skeptical.