Suzanne Mostyn wrote a powerful article in The Weekend Australian, on September 12-13, about narcolepsy and the misreprestation of it in the media. The story is set around a tweet Mia Freeman posted with a link to a YouTube video with the words “Made me laugh. Rusty the narcoleptic dog.”
The clip Freeman posted is of a dashshund running around on grass before, suddenly, inexplicably, collapsing in a heap, asleep. Mostyn raises the question; now imagine that it’s your child. Your child running, playing and – suddenly, without warning – collapsing in a heap, unable to stay upright or alert. Mostyn’s son suffers from narcolepsy and she didn’t find this clip funny at all.
She discovered that the footage was actually part of an instructional video shot for scientific purposes that’s been purloined for use as a punchline on YouTube. The words at the start of the clip say “Sleep disorders. Unit 3: states of consciousness”, while the accompanying commentary says “This dachshund, Rusty, suffers from narcolepsy, a condition that causes him to suddenly fall asleep when he’s trying to do ther things. Little is known about the cause of narcolepsy, except that it can be inherited. It affects humans and animals alike.” Here we can see how often the internet as well as viewers of the internet can take things out of content and something that is a sensative and important issue can be turned into humour by ignorant others. As Mostyn says “Freedman’s tweet ‘Made me laugh’ should have prompted a ‘made me sad’ or better yet – ‘made me think’ or ‘made me investigate’.”
I think it’s a lesson for people to truely understand what information they recieve and to be careful what they say. This can be said for the whole of the media, people with highly respected positions must have the sense to realise what they are saying will have an impact on their viewers, listeners or readers. Journalists and public figures, while they can voice their freedom of speech, must also have a greater social responsiblity that doesn’t create a narrow minded society. We can see the abuse of this power in Kyle Sandilands’s contoversal comments made about Magda Szubanski’s recent 25kg weight loss on his 2DAYFM breakfast show, Sandilands said she would only be skinny if she was put in a concentration camp.
I think Mostyn’s words “think before you tweet . When you don’t you are rendered nothing more than a twit” should apply to the whole of the media.
Tweet this, Mia; the misfortune of others isn’t entertainment – http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26056147-7583,00.html
Kyle’s big mouth in nasty relapse- http://www.watoday.com.au/entertainment/kyles-big-mouth-in-nasty-relapse-20090909-fgfx.html