What might happen if proposals to reduce hospital visitors by encouraging them to speak to patients over the internet instead of visiting were to be implemented …
Elderly patient: “Speak up dear, I can’t hear you.”
Elderly patient: “Hello …? Oh bother, this internet thing just isn’t working! I knew my granddaughter’s claim that we’d be able to see each other over this Skype thing can’t have been true!”
Nurse: “Your computer isn’t switched on …”
Elderly patient: “Oh bother! No wonder I couldn’t hear anything.”
Nurse: “Right, now try again.”
Elderly patient: “Hello? Hello? Oh hello there dear – sorry about the delay, this Skype thing is shocking! Just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to!
Young relative: “How are you feeling today grandma?”
Elderly patient: “Speak up, dear.”
Young relative: “HOW ARE YOU FEELING?”
Elderly patient: “Peeling? I’m not peeling – haven’t seen the sun in donkeys years how on earth could I be peeling?”
Young relative: “Feeling, grandma, feeling …”
Elderly patient: “Oh feeling? Well, I was feeling slightly better, until they told me that instead of receiving visitors today I’d have to speak to them over the internet instead. I don’t know what upset me more – the fact that I wouldn’t be seeing you in person, or that I’d have to use this ever so complicated piece of machinery. I’d never even heard of a computer, let alone seen one, before …
Your phone connection has been lost
Elderly patient: … and now I know why! It honestly isn’t doing anything for my blood pressure, and oh, my migraines have just started up again. Speak up dear, did you say something? Hello? Hello? Nurse!”
Nurse: “You lost your connection, you’ll have to try calling her again.”
Elderly patient: “This is shameful. Whoever made this Skype thing should be shot – not worth the paper it’s written on.”
Nurse: “May I make a suggestion? How about you try using Facebook instead?”
Elderly patient: “Face what?”
Nurse: “Facebook – you can write to your granddaughter and send each other things, without the risk of losing your connection. You might find it easier because you won’t need to keep repeating yourself.”
Elderly patient: “Are you calling me deaf?”
Nurse: “No, of course not … Here, you can use my account. I’ve done a quick search for your granddaughter and she’s online.”
Elderly patient: Hello?
Young relative: hi gma. Soz bout b4. u alryt?
Elderly patient: “NURSE! THE COMPUTER IS SHOWING ME A LANGUAGE I DON’T UNDERSTAND! THE SETTINGS MUST HAVE CHANGED!”
Nurse: “Let’s have a look … oh, um, she’s using English alright – welcome to the new generation!”
Elderly patient: Are you seeing this in English, dear?
Young relative: Ye, chillax gma! Sent you a gift - u gettit?
Elderly patient: “Nurse! My granddaughter said she sent me a gift – can you bring it to me?”
Nurse: “I think she was referring to a virtual gift … here let me have a look … Bingo! Aw how sweet, she sent you a box of chocolates!”
Elderly patient: “What a load of rubbish! First you tell me that my family can’t come to visit me anymore in a bid to ‘save some money’, and now I don’t even get real chocolates anymore. Is that also intended to save some money? What a cop out!”
Young relative: Gma – u alryt?
Elderly patient: No I am not. I’ve got an itch and there’s no-one here to scratch it for me. Oh, what’s this, there’s a ‘poke’ button here. Please poke my itch away.
Young grandma: um, gma, don’t think it works that way …
Elderly patient: “Oh bother!! I’ve had enough! I’m going to sleep – only way I can get some peace in this madness!”
Young relative: nurse … u there?
Young relative: jus thought u should no - this new system … it wrks for us!
Another day, another barrage of headlines. “Rupert was humble but Wendi fought back”; “Murdoch affair spotlights UK’s dirty detectives”; “Phone hacking: News International ‘deliberately thwarted’ police inquiry”.
I’ve been as swept up in what Murdoch senior this week called ‘hysteria’ as the next person. Like a gripping soap opera, it’s even given Eastenders a run for its money. The rumours, the accusations, the inquiries, the arrests, and Tuesday’s very public, Select Committee, intended solely to grill the Murdoch family and watch them squirm in their seats; as the rest of the world seems to be as obsessed with the latest development going on in our back garden as we are, it’s been an exciting week to be a Brit.
At least, so I thought.
For sitting on the train early Wednesday morning, leafing through my Metro, I felt ashamed. And I don’t know if this was as a British citizen, in the paper’s failure to include in its tiny page-23 coverage of war-torn Somalia the heartbreaking news that the UN has declared a famine there worse than any other for over half a century, or as an individual in that I skipped over it in my quest to find more Murdoch material.
As if I really needed it after the nine pages already dedicated to the subject.
And it wasn’t just the Metro. The Guardian, dedicating 12 pages to the scandal, failed to mention the situation in Somalia at all, and on the Telegraph online, of 74 headlines 50% were related to the ‘Phone hacking scandal’, placing the situation in Africa at the very bottom.
And then it hit me. The News of the World is continuing to manipulate us through its demise in the same way as it did in its heyday.
It’s interesting. Just a few weeks ago, the News of the World was still loved for its sensationalising of stories, whether about normal celebrities, politicians, or the Royal Family. It didn’t achieve its infamous status by reporting dry news; rather, its splashes were always intended to make you gawp, gasp, and groan.
The phone-hacking scandal, despite exploding just last week, has not just recently come to light. Many celebrities, who shall not be named for fear of being sued, are probably sitting in their multi-million luxury pads with smiles plastered on their faces saying ‘I told you so’ on loop. Because although they tried, repeatedly, to cause a hoo-ha about the tabloid terror, they were unable to really leave a long-lasting mark. As far as we were concerned, yes, phone-hacking is an awful thing to be part of, whoever you, but at the end of the day, for right or for wrong, celebrities just don’t have the same level of sympathy for an invasion of privacy as a normal Tom, Dick, or Harry would.
Or Milly Dowler. For it was the recent revelations that the 13-year-old murder victim’s phone had been hacked into and tampered with, causing a simultaneous false hope and a thwarting of the investigation, that really got us pissed. As have the ensuing claims surroundings 9/11 victims and relatives of deceased British soldiers.
But if it was the sensationalist news of celebrities and glamorised murder victims which powered Murdoch’s news wheel for so long, it seems that he is still achieving the same control over our media now. You’d think that the overthrowing of one of the hugest tabloid papers worldwide would have some kind of symbolic effect on media ethics, but it would seem that in criticising, debating, and making sure we all get our 2 cents worth of burying Murdoch, we are in actual fact living by the very code that he intended for us.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for a second that the coverage of the phone-hacking scandal, the contamination of which has reached as high up as the government, is incidental. Of course we must dig deep and report the necessary findings. But the power of the media is immeasurable, and when the entire world continues to bury countless other victims under the Murdoch mania day after day, all for another notch on the metaphorical bedpost, we must take a step back and re-asses what’s really important.
For thanks to Jonnie Marbles and his unfathomable foam pie, there’s only one ‘victim’ gaining any real coverage in the media at the moment, and I'd rather not pity him.