Sued51's Blog











{December 8, 2012}   Are Pranks Just a Socially Acceptable Form of Bullying?

bullyingYes, I’m writing this in response to the story of the pranked nurse in Great Britain who committed suicide over some radio personalities’ joke. I’m sure Kate Middleton and Prince William are upset about their unintentional involvement. Someone dying over a supposed joke is the ultimate tragedy. But this “joke” is just another form of bullying to me; this tragedy just an adult version of a teen committing suicide over cyber-bullying.

The other day my husband had the radio on when a local radio DJ, disguised as a “Christmas Elf” pranked a woman by reading her personal journal poetry and aired details of personal financial situation and debts, even asked if she was going to declare bankruptcy. The woman was clearly very angry and upset; she kept saying, “Who are you?” She asked, “How did you get my poetry?” as he read right over her hysterical voice. I was cringing in my chair (I would have changed the channel if I had been alone), while my husband chuckled. The woman finally hung up and the DJs laughed hysterically. I failed to see the humor. All I could think of was that we will never know if that woman had a heart attack or beat her kids or got into a car accident on her way to work because she was so upset after that call. My husband said the DJs call the person back later and explain the prank. And how long would it take to get her blood pressure down after that? Is it okay to humiliate someone in such a public way? How is this different from cyber-bullying? Just because we are dealing with supposed “adults” here?

The recipients of these jokes did not deserve to be placed in the “stockade”; they did nothing wrong — except to have had an acquaintance with a sick sense of humor (in the case of the woman on the phone) or to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time (in the case of the nurse). Could the recipients of these jokes have responded differently than they did? Yes, but that does not make it right in my book. Anti-bullying groups have made great strides in raising awareness in schools in the last few years because of tragic events like this most recent story, yet this is still considered entertainment? Bullying adults is no less wrong than bullying children, we just seem to condone it. Am I humorless or are these pranks bullying in disguise?

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Paul says:

I’m not sure I would call it bullying. But whatever you call it, it is definitely a sign of our times, lack of respect for all others. The ME generation at the pinnacle of self involvement. I need to feel superior.

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sued51 says:

Thank you for your comment, Paul. I think it is emotional bullying…manipulation of other’s feelings…yes, it is a sure sign of lack of respect for others.

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Deborah Wood says:

Sue, I think you have called it correctly. You have really hit on something here. That is exactly what it is. It also reminds me of hazing. Humiliation is bad enough, but the nurse was distraught that she had exposed someone’s personal medical information. It is too sad that she felt THAT terrible about it, but that goes back to your point. You don’t know what this will do to someone, your intentions might be to make a joke but you never know what the consequences could be for the person on the receiving end.

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sued51 says:

Thanks for reading and commenting Deb. Embarrassing people is not a game. I agree about hazing as well. It is a demonstration of complete insensitivity.

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Peter S says:

Things like that really are not funny at all. Just an immature quest for higher ratings.
Radio hosts are not supposed to do something like that either – there is a FCC rule that requires radio hosts to identify themselves and let people know that they are on the radio – especially if it is a live broadcast.

There might not be a rule like that in Australia, where the station that pranked the nurse is located, but I would think they would want something like that now.

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sued51 says:

Peter, Key word in your comment to me is “immature.” That’s where I get the bullying analogy from.

________________________________

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elspethc says:

Like how you see this – I posted on it also here– respect and compassion are actually mature responses I think. Thanks for your comment on my Peace is Delicate post. Elspeth

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sued51 says:

Elspethc,
Thanks for your comment and your visit. I went to read the poem and liked it.

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elspethc says:

thanks for the visit and comment

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Yup, I agree and it should not be acceptable!

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You are right. We cannot, as a society, condone bullying.

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So many people now seem to have forgotten the meaning and the impact of the word….. cruelty.

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