Last night I searched for the word ‘Lychees’ on Twitter. I don’t know if it’s a word that’s normally tweeted a lot, but yesterday it was repeated thousands of times across the Twittersphere when my tic, “Square cheese is the cousin of lychees” became part of #SurrenderYourSay.
‘Surrender your Say’ launched yesterday with over four thousand people giving up control of their tweets and allowing their timelines to be sporadically enriched by Tourettes with authentic vocal tics. The campaign, led by the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, was remarkable and its reach impressive. Over two million people will have seen ‘Surrender Your Say’- tweeted tics so far, and that number’s growing even as I write. You can see the latest stats in real time here.
I’ve found looking through people’s responses to the campaign particularly interesting. Raising awareness about an issue is often a fairly passive process – you’re given information that you either take in or you don’t. But this campaign’s been very different. It hasn’t aimed to share facts about Tourettes – instead it’s given participants a glimpse of what it’s like to have it.
Here are a few great examples of tweets reflecting on the experience:
@Christinedeb thank you for moving me out of my comfort zone and into a more compassionate one. This campaign is destined for the books 🙂
@Neil_Coyte ‘Experiencing’ Tourette’s via #SurrenderYourSay I can begin to imagine how it wld actually affect me #morethanagimmick
@KayliVee My #SurrenderYourSay tweets haven’t been very hectic for twitter. But I can only imagine how hard it must be in real life.
@smirklesmirkle In the throes of Twitter Tourettes. Disconcerting when you don’t know what you will blurt out next. #SurrenderYourSay. Wombat knickers.
@knightinrusty #SurrenderYourSay has started. It’s a little weird and, slightly unnerving, to see me post words I have no control over
@eMJay_Mari Man, not being able to control what you say is frustrating 🙁 #SurrenderYourSay
The beauty of the campaign is that it isn’t just a single sentiment or idea that’s shared or retweeted once. Participants have committed themselves to experiencing the interruption and repetition of the condition for a full 24 hours. This means its reach is wide and it really makes people think about what it’s like living with tics.
It’s fine to celebrate the humour of Tourettes but it’s important to recognise that tics often continue long after the joke’s stopped being funny. The experience of ‘Surrender Your Say’ seems to be helping people understand this on a personal level.
I feel very proud that some of my tics have been shared so widely and that people haven’t only read them – they’ve tweeted them as well.
If you want to find out more about my experiences of living with Tourettes do browse my blog or read my book Welcome to Biscuit Land. If your stint of surrendering’s ended and you’re missing the tics, there are 5500 more for you to check out, and if any inspire you get creative and upload an image to the gallery.
To everyone who surrendered their say – thank you. You’ve helped us all along the path to a more understanding world.