Can social media cause a “social” disorder?

Twitching: it has been all over the news (and Internet). In New York, girls are having Tourett’s-like symptoms and uncontrollable twitching. But what is causing it? Some of the affected girl’s parents believe it is due to an environmental toxin- they even asked infamous Erin Brockovich to investigate the problem. Doctors say that it is a mass hysteria that is spread through social groups, or in this case could be linked to Facebook and YouTube, where the girls are posting their symptoms and videos of themselves twitching.

What is Mass Hysteria, exactly?

Well, one of history’s most famous cases of mass hysteria was the Salem witch trials, where the town of Salem believed that individuals were possessed by demonic powers. Today, doctors know that it is not demons, or powerful supernatural powers, but a neurological disorder that makes the brain subconsciously mimic the twitching or social behaviors of others. They are saying that these symptoms can be triggered by stress or anxiety in individuals.

Yet, the hysteria continues and makes us wonder if YouTube and Facebook could trigger or “spread” the mystery illness. Is this illness a true case of viral social media?

As PR and Marketing gurus, we hope, wish and pray that we will be the genius who creates the next viral campaign for our client…but this may hit to close to home.

Watch the video from ABC Nightline News here.