Serene Branson: The Dark Side of Social Media?

Serene Branson, CBS News

When you’re on Twitter, Facebook or using any other social media and you see everyone piling on some internet meme or buzzing about some news headline, think about NOT jumping to conclusions like I just did. There usually is more to the story.

Taking a peek at my Twitter feed today I noticed several discussions about a “Serene Branson” and an “epic fail” so I took a look at the video. Like many on Twitter, I instantly burst out laughing and found myself thinking, “Oh…reporter. Los Angeles. The Grammy Awards. Probably imbibed or snorted something backstage.

Turns out there are several M.D.s that instantly were very concerned that it was highly likely there’d been a neurological event (e.g., a mini stroke) and not anything else.

I’m ashamed to admit that my initial suspicious reaction is likely wrong and I should’ve stopped myself from leaping to any conclusion. It took reading the comments (where others had said, “Hey! Wait a minute!” and pointed out the potential for a brain issue) to stop myself from jumping on the pile and it wiped the smile off my face pretty quickly.

Is the jury still out on whether this was “self medication” or a brain problem? Yes. The station released a statement yesterday afternoon saying, “Serene Branson was examined by paramedics on scene immediately after her broadcast. Her vital signs were normal. She was not hospitalized. As a precautionary measure, a colleague gave her a ride home and she says that she is feeling fine this morning.” While it’s possible she was blasted or high, shouldn’t we all take a page from the American justice system and consider someone innocent until proven guilty?

A friend of mine once had an episode on the phone where he couldn’t speak for 30 seconds. Shrugging it off, it happened again that evening. Turns out he had a brain tumor. You’d never know it by looking at him, and having him as a pal should’ve made me be instantly empathetic, but instead my instant reaction was coldly judgemental. Think about that the next time you see some “EPIC FAIL!” video that someone has tossed up on YouTube for we voyeurs to gawk at like a car wreck on the highway. I know I will in the future.

Good overview from the Today show:

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