Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cracked.com Talks EDS, Fails Miserably

Today, Cracked.com posted an article, 6 Weird Realities of My Life With an Awful Superpower". The article was about Stephanie Erdman's experience with EDS, and while everyone with EDS is different, I couldn't get past some of the glaring inaccuracies and omissions perpetuated within.

The largest error with the article is in regards to the different types of EDS. It's incredibly important when writing about EDS to point out that there are several different types with entirely different symptoms. In the case of the Cracked article, this information isn't included. At the end of the article is this blurb:
"Author's note: I also wish to recognize that there are also several terminal forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and my experience isn't the same as that of people with those forms. Also, invulnerability to pain meds has actually led to suicides, because the disease becomes impossible to handle, leading some of us to self-medicate. Sorry to save all the bummer for the end."

Okay, so all the reader gets is a vague reference to "several terminal forms" and the standard 'Everyone is different' explanation. What about the other non-terminal forms of EDS? Why are we not naming them? The article does not even link to an overview of EDS. Not even a quick hyperlink to Wikipedia, which is better than nothing.

Another big problem with Erdman's view is that she perpetuates the "circus freak" stereotype of EDS. I don't know about you, but I try not to show off my dislocations and ability to fold myself like a pretzel. She also includes supposed symtoms that have nothing to do with EDS. 
  • Point #6 of the article is "Giant Stature (Along With Giant-Sized Growing Pains)". Large stature is not a common attribute of EDS, in fact, it's more commonly linked to Marfan Syndrome, a completely different connective tissue disorder.  
  • She refers to EDSer's brains being "prone to short-circuting" and includes a link to this PubMed paper. That paper says nothing about brains "short-circuting", and the only mention of brain issues at all is in reference to patients with Down Syndrome, not EDS.
  • Point #2 talks about "The Ability to Tap Into the Secret Side Effects of Prescription Drugs" with zero link to EDS whatsoever. 

My biggest issue overall is that she completely downplays the seriousness of living with EDS. Though the article is about her personal experience, it's written as though EDS is a moderate annoyance in life/a cool parlour trick, and while it may be for her, she should still point out that EDS can be a severely disabling condition for others. 

Basically, I'm disappointed that what could've been an awesome article spreading awareness is nothing more than an inaccurate, sloppy mess. Cracked could have and should have asked more EDSers about their experience with the condition to get a full view of what life with EDS can really be like, as opposed to writing an article that is wanton click-bait.

On top of it all, when I went into the forum to point out and dispell some of the errors via Q&A, one of the mods locked my post. When I posted another thread with a clearer statement, she deleted it. Well done, Cracked, you won't even allow discussion. What the fuck is the point of a forum if not to discuss? 

I'm frustrated.


  1. Have you read the articles at cracked.com? There is one central theme taking something horrific and trying to find something funny about it. It is not a forum for bringing awareness or political agenda. I read an article about a girl who suffers from a horrible disease but still manages to laugh at it. It was done without political agenda. Instead of complaining about a badly researched fact you might want to realize its a comedy magazine and applauding a girl who found the funny in her experience....

  2. Um...didn't read that before I posted it...It sounded a little rude....I have total compassion and sympathy for anyone suffering. Just don't believe people should go to Disneyland to bring awareness about suffering in Africa....Just the wrong place....

    1. Nah, it's fine. I get what you're saying. I read Cracked on a near-daily basis, so I know it's a comedy site. However, most of their articles, even the absolutely silly, pointless ones, are generally fact-checked and quickly researched. I don't see anything wrong with finding amusement in a shitty situation, I frequently joke about EDS and how it makes my life one big mess. I just think that they could've at least thrown in a link or two that actually explained EDS and, y'know, not used the tired "circus freak" stereotype. I dunno, it just rubbed me the wrong way. I think what bugs me most is that, a while back, there was a column on Cystic Fibrosis that was actually informative as well as humourous.

  3. I really dislike when people play down forms of EDS symptoms and pass them off as a cool party tricks too. It's like we are then assumed to only deal with the different types of EDS in really minimal ways! It's never going to help raise awareness for such a serious debilitating illness. Good post!