Let me preface this post by saying that in no way am I medical expert or psychiatrist. But it doesn’t take a doctor to realize when something is strange. Viral videos – which many people aspire to create – seem to be having an unnervingly negative affect on some people’s health.
In July Newsweek published a cover story, asking if the Internet is ‘Driving us Mad.” The article looked at how KONY creator, Jason Russell, lost his mind after producing the most viral video in history, and was caught on camera at an intersection near his San Diego home, slapping the concrete and yelling about the devil.
In the end, Russell was diagnosed with a form of temporary insanity called reactive psychosis – and his wife stated that it had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol. This was about the pressure of dealing with the attention that comes with a viral video.
Now today, we have found that another person in a viral video has suddenly died. Michael Leisner, a 65-year-old real estate agent, was featured in a YouTube video protesting against General Mills for being pro-gay marriage. In the video he tries to light some cereal on fire, but ends up burning more then he can handle, and flees the scene. The video has been featured on countless news outlets and television programs, and lead to Leisner being fired from his job. It’s reported that Leisner’ died in his car while waiting for his sons to finish playing tennis.
While the reason for Leisner’s death has not been determined, based on the timing it is fair game to speculate that the viral video could have had something to do with it. The amount of attention that any viral video brings to an individual – especially negative attention – can be way too much to handle, especially considering the number of media requests and amount of social media attention that one can receive.