Monday, 10 December 2012

An eye for an eye, etc.


Last week, a tragic event occurred in England. A nurse, after receiving a prank call from somebody purporting to be the Queen of England, transferred a call through the hospital switchboard to a senior colleague. 

The senior colleague, who also believed she was speaking to royalty, then divulged information on a patient to them.

The pranksters in question were from a radio station in Australia.

The call in question quickly went viral. In fact, as soon as it was broadcast and put on the site, it was global news. Questions were asked. Brows were furrowed. How could this kind of security lapse have been allowed to happen?

Punishments were demanded. Sackings were demanded. Copy and paste status updates abounded on Facebook. ‘How could this be allowed to happen? REPOST IF U AGREE’. I no hun. Tragic.

And then something truly tragic happened.

One of the nurses, the one who had originally put the call through, took her own life.

The news quickly went viral. It was global news. Questions were asked. Hands were wringed. How could this have been allowed to happen?

Punishments were demanded. Sackings were demanded. Copy and paste status updates abounded on Facebook. ‘How could this be allowed to happen? REPOST IF U AGREE’. I no hun. Tragic.


But when we really look at the the cold hard facts, who is really to blame, and is there/should there be any blame apportioned?

I look to Twitter and Facebook, the pulse and echo chamber of society today, and sometimes what I see saddens me. 


People who have no interest in biblical teachings talking of blood on hands, an eye for an eye, misquoting passages, demanding punitive action to be taken against those responsible.

I am not a religious man, but I know piety when I see it.

Can nobody see that this is a tragedy that, to a certain extent, we all played a part in?

We crave gossip and tittle-tattle. We love ‘banter’. When somebody is hurt by our deeds, ‘we were only having a laugh’.

The media want your eyes on their page. They want to sell your page views, your unique impressions to advertisers. So they (we) give in to these needs. We bully, we belittle and we speculate.

But what happens when an innocent person has their life smashed to pieces in the process?

Funnily enough, we choose to become observers again. We blend into the crowd - the mob. And we chase a new victim.

Let me get one thing clear - I abhor the prank call format in radio. I think it’s cheap, deeply unfunny, and often very boring. It’s a format responsible for the careers of number of presenters (who I won’t name) that I have to say are about as funny as laying in a bath full of nails whilst listening to a Throbbing Gristle box set.

But these presenters are not the cause of this tragedy. This is a collective responsibility that we all share.

The media, the tweeters, the copy-and-pasters and the aural voyeurs. We are all to blame in varying degrees. So why don’t we take a look at ourselves before blaming others.

Lets ask ourselves what we as individuals, and as a society bound together by flesh, blood, trinkets and technology, can do to stop another individual taking their lives as a result of mainstream and citizen-led ridicule.

And if you see fit, why not donate a bit of money to suicide prevention charities that dedicate their resources to trying to prevent vulnerable people from taking their own lives?

But most importantly: the next time you have a though pop into your head that is cruel, discriminatory or could cause upset to others - please think twice before you post it. PLEASE.