Wednesday 2 January 2013

When is being funny not really funny?

Jacinda Saldhana
Jacinda Saldhana was a nurse from Mangalore working in a hospital in England. She was minding her own business when she received a call at 5:30 am. It was from Prince Charles and his wife checking up on their daughter-in-law’s health, as she was checked into the hospital. Jacinda put the call through to another nurse who gave them the update. Nothing unusual about the interaction except that the call was from a couple of prank RJs from Australia and the contents of the call were broadcast to the whole world to have a hearty laugh. A few days later, they found Jacinda dead. The reasons are unknown but it is presumed that she took her own life. Even though the Royal couple did not charge the hospital, I can imagine the pandemonium that broke when it was broadcast to the world the inefficiencies of the hospital with Jacinda being the butt of all the jokes. May be she could not take the pressure and took her own life? Could she not have simply shrugged it off as a prank and moved on?  Could she not simply get past this?  May be not. In this fast moving world where we are all connected in an instant, even follies are forwarded with lightning speed. A simple woman who was going about her own way must have felt humiliated beyond imagination to be an international target of a joke of such gigantic proportions.  

All this got me thinking of what has media become and what lengths we are willing to go to get a story / to get a laugh ..even if it is for a split second. The joke played by the RJs would be in public memory for a week or two but the hurt it caused Jacinda could have lived with her all her life EVEN IF she was alive. The RJs have been removed from their jobs, their twitter account suspended making it seem as though it was their fault. But, I think that the blame should rest on us.. each one of us who has gotten used to being a voyeur even at the cost of someone else’s feelings. As time went by, we all have become insensitive to the feelings that we hurt along the way. The horrible nicknames we give in college that stick for the rest of their lives, how we make fun of those who look a little different, kids taping their friends in compromising positions and webcasting them, the pranks that we play – all lead to a very unhealthy living. Do we need to hurt someone to have a laugh? If we pick on public figures, that is one thing but I feel strongly that we should not pick on simple citizens who are minding their own business. We have to invest new ways of entertaining ourselves that does not involve others.
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