By Mohan Karulkar:
Last Tuesday’s prank call by Australian DJs to an English Royal hospital, and the subsequent suicide of the nurse who answered the phone, is a hot mess of a situation. Instead of simply being a prank in poor taste, destined to be forgotten like so much of what we consume, it’s become something much more serious.
Reaction was swift against the DJs, who have since been fired from the station and gone mostly into hiding. Here are some sample Tweets:
- @vratnay: A husband without a wife and two kids without a mother! All thanks to you two @MelGreigHot30 & @MContheradio SHAME ON YOU! #royalprank
- @LexPerera: Making someone commit suicide through the use of guilt let alone a prank is wrong #2dayfm #royalprank
- @Retoasting_King: Well done @mcontheradio for your #royalprank. Still think its funny? #murderer
- @katieehartley: #royalprank you should be ashamed of yourselves. You just cost someone their life. Well done, see who’s laughing now
To be sure, people are upset at the death of an innocent. But a closer look reveals another thread, and it reads like this:
The tables have turned. The DJs got what was coming to them. They lie, trick, humiliate, and expose people for fun. Finally, they’ve been exposed in the same way they expose others. They are the Vulture Culture, and they deserve this.
And, the truth is, they are part of the Vulture Culture we talk about at People of the Second Chance; there’s no denying it. Shock Jocks make part of their living off of kicking people when they’re down. But if they are content providers, what does that say about the consumers (Hint: us)? By my count, that makes us part of the Vulture Culture too.
When we engage in the Schadenfreude of blame — the secret pleasure in seeing the tables turned — we ignore our own role in events. We lose the conversations on mass consumption of gossip. We lose the conversations on depression and suicide. We lose the conversations on privacy and security.
In other words, we lose the conversations that actually move cultures forward. And we lose the lessons we ought to learn from needless deaths. Instead, we make it about the DJs. Or the tabloids. Or the British. Or the teens. Or the immigrants. Or the liberals. Or the gays. Or … pretty much anyone other than ourselves.
Blaming others makes us feel innocent, and man is that dangerous. If you want to be innocent, then change the way you live. If you want to fight the Vulture Culture, then acknowledge your part in it and choose to live differently. Live that choice out loud, and change the world around you.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian: you played a tasteless prank, and many lives have been changed forever — including yours. You’ve said as much, and admitted that you’re both shattered. We stand with you, because everyone deserves a second chance, no matter the consequences of their actions. Your second chance comes without strings — courtesy of Grace. The Vulture Culture stops here.
Mel and Michael, welcome to People of the Second Chance.
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