Reacting to tragedy like we didn’t see it coming is a huge problem we face in society today
Over recent days I have been really fascinated by the reaction to the untimely and tragic death by suicide of one of our best loved TV stars Caroline Flack. People felt a connection to her without ever knowing who she was or indeed without ever knowing how she was.
Before it was even announced on BBC or Sky news my social media thread was full of instant reaction to a news story that had barely even broke. People were using their social media platforms to criticise social media and its lack of action on trolls using their technology before the news even hit mainstream media. This is a whole new world. News is instant and reaction is instantaneous, blame is attached and memes created, all despite the family of Caroline requesting politely for privacy in their hour of grief.
We have had a real insight into human psychology and human nature and its relationship with the media unlike anything we have seen since the death of Princess Diana over 20 years ago.
The reaction has been fairly overwhelming and somewhat controversially predictable but for me what it has really highlighted is we never look at ourselves and how we behave as the problem, we live in a world where we blame everyone else to protect ourselves from the truth. We are the problem!
Before I continue, this article is not about making anyone feel guilty or responsible, the past is no longer something you can control and if this article makes one person at least think about what they do or one company think about how they behave with regards to safeguarding their staff then it has been well worth the half hour it has taken to write.
Some if not most of the blame for Caroline’s death has been put at the feet of mainstream TV, newspaper press and social media. I would suggest that there will be people within ITV feeling incredibly uneasy at this situation and questioning themselves as to whether they supported her sufficiently, this will no doubt lead to people feeling guilty, responsible and of course they will be exposed to public scrutiny.
The irony of this situation seems to have been lost on a lot of people. They were at the end of the day doing their job and I don’t believe for a second they were doing anything other than protecting their brand. This is where the ignorance towards mental health starts, we close off our thinking, we focus on £££ signs and reputation rather than the people and their mental state. In businesses across the land we have more people off work with stress related illness than at any point in history and at no point do we ever think about changing our behaviours to prevent this problem occurring in the first place
Should the CPS have pursued this case?
The CPS have been blamed for pursing this case despite her boyfriend requesting they don’t, domestic violence is a real problem in this country, victims feel beholden to their attackers to such an extent that sometimes the law has to intervene for their own protection. However tragic this case is, the CPS have a responsibility to many victims of domestic abuse and their procedures are in place to protect them.
So please be careful before attacking a system that works tirelessly to protect vulnerable people.
Reality TV – A REAL PROBLEM!
I have thought long and hard about how to put this article together without looking to offend the person reading it but again I must reiterate this about making you think it’s not about making you react.
Instagram and Facebook (I am not cool enough for snapchat) have been full of messages encouraging us to be kind, slating keyboard warriors and facing up to what is at the end of the day a tragic waste of talent but I want to turn this around a little bit and make you think. Are you a part of the problem?
Caroline was most famous for her role in Love Island a show that preys on everything that is wrong in our society. I have heard and read people including some close friends and family say things like
“Can’t wait for Love Island tonight it’s all kicking off”
“Ooh contestant x is dumping contestant y to be with contestant z I wonder what will happen”
“Oh I feel so sorry for person x I can’t believe how much of a bitch contestant y is”
How is this entertainment? And more to the point how can you write social media posts slamming the media scrutiny of our most loved celebrities whilst being such an obvious part of the problem in the first place. You cannot talk about the rejection of Caroline Flack by ITV whilst at the same time watching and posting about a programme that on a weekly basis has been set up to eject and ultimately reject one contestant at a time based on whether they are “chosen” or not. I must state that this is not just an ITV problem this is reality TV and this is YOUR entertainment.
Many have argued that reality TV allows it viewers a type of escapism and lighthearted entertainment but we cant deny that in order to do that we are tapping in to the very insecurities that we must protect people from.
Mental Health in the 21st Century
I have been for some time part of trying to develop an understanding of mental health and have been trying to educate people on how to live with their own anxieties and behaviours but to understand the loneliness of suicide is something incomprehensible to anyone who has not been there themselves, it is beyond standard psychology as fundamentally as human beings we value the sanctity of life beyond anything else.
I have interviewed people who have survived as prisoners of war, I have worked with people who have survived grave illness and people who have come back from some of the most dangerous places on earth. We have ingrained DNA to fight when our life is danger.
To understand suicide, PTSD and serious depression is best left to people who really know what they are talking about but what we cannot do anymore is just turn our back on the problem.
Mental Health care is underfunded, understaffed, misunderstood and completely misrepresented. Government has to change its approach to mental health, we need to enforce change in our work place, in our schools and in our media but most importantly we need to look in a bloody big mirror and enforce change on ourselves.
Spend more time in the present, not on our phones, dedicate more time to our family, not our bank balance, understand financial stress and how to cope with it, properly deal with bullying in schools and the workplace, root out anti-social behaviour towards 19 year old footballers just because their skin colour is a different pigment and once and for all decide how to we wish to live as a multicultural free society. Whilst technology brings us into a new world our behaviours are still stuck in the 1st century and until that changes we have to stop being shocked by the tragedies of this weekend.
This is not a new problem but it is a one we need to finally face. Life is too fragile to waste and we are to important not to give it our best shot.