Paul Karason, America’s Papa Smurf

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Jennifer Kwon, Copy Editor

Paul Karason turned into an internet sensation as soon as mass media cables caught onto … a fairly interesting story. Often dubbed Papa Smurf, the Blue man, or America’s Internet Sensation, Karason is not your average American. You see, there is a reason why mass news outlets scrambled to gather their camera gear to hurriedly book a flight to Washington DC—and that was because of his skin color—which was blue. 

But, Paul Karason wasn’t always a man with blue skin. In fact, he used to be a fair-skinned American with freckles, blond hair, and blue eyes. Then, what would possibly have caused this unexpected change of events? 

It all started with cigarettes. Falling into the pitfall of smoking in his early twenties, Karason was a heavy smoker. Desperate to find solutions that would allow him to live a nicotine-free life, he was immediately attracted by an ad magazine that promoted the return of a “promising health status” through the use of homemade colloidal silver—a medication that contains silver for external and internal infections. 

Drinking ten ounces of colloidal silver suspended in water per day, he immediately noticed changes to his health. Not only did his acid refluxes magically disappear within two weeks since the start of consuming such medication, but so did the pain he experienced from arthritis. Karason was over the moon. It seemed as though he finally found a cure that would be the answer to all his problems. However, it was after his friend from university who came over that Karason noticed a change in his appearance. Just like what his friend had jokingly said, “Karason was turning into a literal smurf.” It was later realized, however, that Paul Karason was diagnosed with a rare condition—Arygria, a permanent skin condition that is caused by silver building up in the body over a long time. 

But, Karason would never have been diagnosed with a rare medical condition in the first place if it were not for the misleading ad-magazine. Despite how part of the blame can go to Karason for believing in that advertisement, it is important to recognize where the other half of the blame lies—the advertising publication company. Companies are myopic on how falsified information regarding health conditions can lead to genuinely damaging consequences. In this case, it caused a man’s life to turn upside down due to changes in his skin color. Subjects regarding health, body, medicine, or anything in that area should not be used for publicity. Perhaps by enforcing stricter regulations on the type of content advertising companies can or cannot publish is something the government could take into consideration so that we can avoid another incident like this from happening. Such companies must consider the duty they hold and establish ethical policies; if not, it is only a matter of time before more people are diagnosed with conditions caused by fallacious information, which are definitely situations almost anyone can avoid.