This will be short, but since I think it’s important, I wanted to be sure to write about it before it was no longer topical.
As the title of this post would suggest, an epilepsy-related story has been circulating over the past few days. In fact, it made the virtual front page in some outlets, the New York Times’ web site included. I can’t comment on its placement in physical newspapers given that I haven’t checked; however, let’s just assume that it was in a prominent position in the most reputable of them.
I know what you’re thinking: what could be so momentous as to warrant such media attention for a condition that remains perpetually, and frustratingly, under the radar?
For your benefit, I’ll summarize, inadequately, the NY Times article about the case. If you can access the article (darn pay walls), you should go ahead and read it in full yourself since a) it’s good and b) my less-than-sharp brain will inevitably miss key points. Note that I preface what follows with the obvious disclaimer that everything I write regarding Rivello and Eichenwald is biased by the fact that my worldview and medical experiences are significantly closer to Eichenwald’s.
In short, John Rayne Rivello, some dude with issues and strong political views, used Twitter to send an animated image containing strobe effects meant to trigger a seizure to Kurt Eichenwald, a journalist (with political views opposing Rivello’s) who has been open about his epilepsy. After clicking on the GIF, Eichenwald had a major seizure. The FBI and the Dallas police investigated and have now arrested Rivello with the charge of criminal cyberstalking; as stated in the linked article, the Justice Department affirmed that “investigators found evidence of the plan to attack Mr. Eichenwald from a search of Mr. Rivello’s Twitter account.”
It’s horrifying to think that it would occur to even the most terrible among us to use someone else’s chronic illness as a means of attack. And yet as reported in that NY Times article that I keep quoting, Eichenwald has “said that since the Dec. 15 message, 40 more accounts have sent him strobe light images.”
People are the worst.
But justice is in the process of maybe being done, which is pretty nice. And this is probably good for epilepsy awareness, so there’s that. (Yes, this is positive thinking, me-style.) There’s something else, too, that I’ve taken from Eichenwald’s story as it’s been reported thus far. I’m too tired to blog about it right now, though, so you’re going to have to wait until next time, or the time after. The suspense! #worstcliffhangerever