Seattle’s man in the tree wasn’t that funny.
LAST summer, someone shared a video of what appeared to be a drunk policeman swaying and falling on a train in India. It went viral, generating millions of online views and countless jokes.
It wasn’t that funny after all.
Earlier this week, reports came that the policeman actually had a brain injury from a massive stroke that contorted his face and left him partially paralyzed. He blacked out on the train after working an extra long shift.
The policeman’s wife reportedly fell into depression and also became sick, after her formerly distinguished husband became a laughing stock.
That cautionary tale emerged shortly before a man climbed a tree in downtown Seattle Tuesday and came down Wednesday, becoming yet another Internet sensation.
Even though the man in Seattle appeared to have signs of mental illness and was in a dangerous situation, it was an irresistible opportunity for a chuckle. In the blink of a shutter, he went from a person in trouble to a hashtag, feeding social media’s insatiable appetite for fresh material.
Page views are the currency of media, so news helicopters provided round-the-clock coverage. Attention snowballed, drawing coverage from international news outlets, as his behavior became more troubling and scary.
Kudos to Seattle police, firefighters and medics for their patience and considerate response to a person in trouble.”
Kudos to Seattle police, firefighters and medics for their patience and considerate response to a person in trouble, despite the temporary inconvenience he caused. Though even they couldn’t resist a pun or two on Twitter.
Quirkiness is fun, but mental illness is not.
Every year, nearly 60 million Americans experience a mental-health condition, touching one in four adults, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
That means it’s a matter of when — not if — friends and family will have some sort of episode. When that happens, we ought to remember the man in the tree and hope our loved ones are treated with more dignity and compassion.