June 13th, 2012

GIFs and the Epilepsy Tag

I was quickly made aware that the epilepsy tag was purposely being used in posts containing flashing/moving GIFs this evening. As I previously mentioned, these flashing/moving pictures do have the capability of causing seizures for those with photosensitive epilepsy. Below, I will borrow from the Epilepsy Foundation’s list of what can trigger a seizure for those with photosensitive epilepsy.

  • frequency of the flash (that is, how quickly the light is flashing)
  • brightness
  • contrast with background lighting
  • distance between the viewer and the light source
  • wavelength of the light
  • whether a person’s eyes are open or closed

As you can see, it is not simply flashing GIFs that can cause a seizure. 

I know some may think, “If they’re having seizures they should be on medication.” Or, they tell photosensitive epileptics to not be on the computer if they are going to have seizures. To address the first issue, I want to make it emphatically clear that anti-seizure medication is very hit-and-miss, and sometimes seizures cannot be controlled by them. Biological factors, including how the brain is structured, can affect this. For me, I feel fortunate that the third medication is what stopped my seizures, and that I only have to take one pill twice a day. Others, followers of this blog, have to take more than one to simply attempt to keep their seizures under control. 

Now, I want to address the use of the epilepsy tag compared to the use of tw: seizure/epilepsy, or things of that nature. From what I am gathering, the original intent of the epilepsy tag was to use it in case of flashing or moving pictures. The intentions here were good. However, as tumblr became more popular, those with epilepsy wanted to discuss it and find others to talk about it with. Blogs such as mine and Seizure Beaver popped up to promote that sort of discussion and, in essence, build a community. The use of the epilepsy tag morphed into discussion and sharing purposes.

To replace the epilepsy tag to prevent those with photosensitive epilepsy from having seizures, other tags were used. I’ve seen tw: seizure/epilepsy, trigger warning: seizure/epilepsy, seizure warning, epilepsy warning, or simply flashy. Users also have their own personal ones that they use and block using Tumblr Savior. Based on what I have seen, this method has proven to help prevent seizures from happening. Unfortunately, as we have seen tonight and other times before, the tag is still used by tag flashing pictures that may cause a seizure; whether the intent was to cause a seizure cannot be known for each specific case. 

To my point: why should you, a non-epileptic who does not have to deal with seizures, use tags like flashy or seizure warning? Frankly, it is a common courtesy to your followers or others who may visit your blog who may or may not have photosensitive epilepsy, and it prevents them from having seizures. I do not feel I have to go into detail about what seizures are capable of doing in regards to hurting a person, but I will say this: it hurts, it makes you feel ill, and you’re powerless to stop it because your body is out of your control for an undetermined period of time. 

I am a firm believer in everyone’s right to use a computer, and that includes epileptics. It may be a slight inconvenience to tag posts with seizure warnings, but it could prevent them from having their day or night ruined by seizures. 

  1. mejay90 reblogged this from enduringepilepsy
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  3. antivian reblogged this from enduringepilepsy and added:
    epilepsy seizures epilepsy awareness Epilepsy Foundation
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  12. seeker-of-darkness reblogged this from infinitephemer-archive and added:
    terminus—zero: [[Thank you. Now I’ll tag this stuff with ‘epilepsy warning’. So, to let you know how to stay safe from...
  13. infinitephemer-archive reblogged this from little-bluebird-aqua and added:
    [Thanks! Now at least I know what to tag them - but like I said, to be on the safe side I try not to post or reblog gifs...
  14. little-bluebird-aqua reblogged this from illusionsandshadows
  15. illusionsandshadows reblogged this from enduringepilepsy and added:
    [Reblogging this from my Epilepsy blog that I did so there’s more information about what causes an actual photosenstive...
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  21. el-aleph-deslumbrante reblogged this from mypetitmal and added:
    I really appreciate mypetitmal for sharing this important information, and hope that more people will be sensitive and...
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