Last week, nearly 9,000 Twitter users came down with temporary Tourette syndrome.
As part of a campaign called Surrender Your Say, people opted to relinquish control of their Twitter accounts for 24 hours to raise awareness about the disorder. Participants could tweet as normal, but occasionally a bot – based on the real tics of a person with the disorder – would tweet out unexpected messages such as “Feet, don’t feet” or “Ah! Ah! Ah! Ummmmmm.”
Melissa Muskat, a lawyer with Goodmans in Toronto, was one of the people impacted by the disorder who watched the campaign by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi Toronto for the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. As the mother of a son with Tourette syndrome, she was pleased to see the innovative use of social media to inform people that the disorder is more complex than the popular notion of a disease that causes people to swear uncontrollably (a condition that actually affects less than one in 10 people with TS).