A power for good or evil

Like most people I was saddened to read today that a nurse caught up in a media stunt surrounding Prince William and Kate has died in the UK. It’s hard to believe a prank phone call can have such tragic ramifications. I’m sure neither of the presenters involved envisaged their attempt at humour would end so badly. It’s a sad reminder we live our lives almost like goldfish in a giant glass bowl consisting of billions of computer screens all around the world. In a rush of tweets a comment or an incident goes viral and its impact is exponential.

In 2012 we’ve seen the power of the media, and particularly social media, used for good all around the world. Governments have been overthrown by the mobilisation of huge armies of tweeting protestors. Criminals have been apprehended through Face Book shout outs. Disaster relief efforts have been co-ordinated on line as ground based facilities fail under the might of Mother Nature.

We’ve also seen social media and mainstream media, like the UK’s News of the World, villified for the hurt it can cause when trolls take over memorial sites or journalists resort to phone hacking for stories.

In a world where we are increasingly connected via the web we need to be mindful that this vast connectivity comes with a responsibility. As active participants in the media we are also accountable for our ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and sometimes thoughtless comments. We’re not just talking to a computer screen… We’re talking to, or about, other people just like us with frailties, fears and weaknesses.

We, and the media we consume so voraciously, need to show ¬†respect for people’s privacy, tolerance for an innocent mistake, restraint with our criticism. My heart goes out to the family of the young nurse. My thoughts also go with the presenters who are suffering their own back lash for what I’m sure was a thoughtless prank rather than a malicious attack.

By our actions we can help shape the power of the media for good, not evil.


14 thoughts on “A power for good or evil

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  3. Thanks, Jenn. Pranks are indeed part of our culture and that of the British – GW is a certified Master of Pranksters – but as you say the recipients need to know those pranks are being delivered with love not malice…

  4. Beautifully written, Helene. Pranks and practical jokes are such a part of Aussie culture. I gre up on them. Usually harmless, but as we now see, unless you know the person such things are best left to family members and close friends who we know (and, as was my experience growing up,could give back as good as they get!)
    Let’s hope there are lessons not just learned but changes made accordingly.

  5. Sarah, here’s the link to a story about it on the ABC.


    Good to hear it hasn’t made it to the American media. It’s front page headlines here…

  6. Helene,

    I’m saddened to hear about someone dying as a result of a prank but I guess in a way I’m glad to be able to say I have no clue whatsoever what “prank” you’re referring to here. Either it (miraculously) hasn’t made the American mainstream news (yet) or I’m just so oblivious to celebrity bruhahas, I haven’t heard about it (yet).

    What “prank” was there and what happened as a result of it? Can you elucidate a bit for my benefit?


  7. I believe it was a thoughtless prank. I wonder if they even considered how dreadfully embarrassed the poor person would feel, what taunts they’d have to endure when the ruse was made plain.

    The pen is mightier than the sword, but it all comes back to the person behind the weapon. And in today’s world, social media is the pen.

    Inconsideration is one of the world’s biggest killers of peace. Proofreading emails and comments before hitting send or submit should become practice. Consideration of consequences should be mandatory before action.

    My heart goes out with yours, to the family and friends of a life cut short. And I hope many will heed the lesson of this unhappy occurrence.

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