Faking Disabilities for Clout

Dissecting internet influencer morality


(Graphic by Aidan Shen)

Aidan Shen, Reporter

Attention is something that most young teens crave and some don’t have an original idea good enough to get it. So, they resort to more immature options that come with fleeting fame, and not so fleeting consequences.

Cancel culture has become a huge topic online over the past few years. During quarantine over 2020 and 2021, social media entertainment evolved more than ever, with the change of humor and slang. Like all good things, these have come with a use for wrongdoing as well.

A popular trend that has made a large appearance, has been the imitation and mocking of disabilities.

In my personal experience on Tik Tok, every video I see raising awareness for a mental illness or disability comes with an online war in every comment section. 

It warms my heart to see people defending a community that should be seen as nothing but a group of people fighting more than most of us ever do, in a single day. The most prominent disability that I’ve come across on Tik Tok specifically is Tourettes.

Tourettes is a condition that affects an individual’s nervous system, causing sudden twitches or movements called “tics”. 

I’ve seen the good side of the user base, and unfortunately the bad. 

One such example of this negative side of Tourettes awareness on TikTok, would be a content creator who calls themselves “@ticsandroses”. 

Their content explores everyday living with a sometimes debilitating disability, Tourettes, or so viewers thought. They have recently been exposed for faking tics and other mental illnesses for clout.

This Tik Toker has been ridiculed and shamed by multiple other creators who truly experience the everyday struggle of Tourettes, calling out the misconceptions they have been spreading on their page.

There is a false view on the internet that people with Tourettes can control or anticipate what their tics are going to be, and when they come. A content creator and twitch streamer with the username “@Dapz” reinforces that fact that “you can’t really choose what tic you have at any given moment, it kind of just happens.”

Even when trying to raise awareness for a good cause, it is still immoral to exploit any sort of disability or mental illness, regardless of the intention. 

An inspiring example of what someone can do regardless of their abilities, or disabilities, is Lewis Capaldi. Capaldi was initially diagnosed with the condition Tourrettes in March of 2022, revealing it publicly in September. 

A wholesome act by fans of Lewis Capaldi at one of his concerts, shows fans finishing the end of his number 1 hit song, “Someone You Loved”, as he experiences tics at the end of his performance. 

The whole end of the chorus was finished for him by his crowd as he watched, giving a perfect example of how you can support those with impaired abilities. 

Instead of fishing for clout online by misusing the algorithm, Tik Tok users and the rest of the world should take inspiration from Lewis’ fans on the night of February 21, and support people with these disabilities, instead of faking it themselves.