Chris Maloney, Prank Calls and Squaring the Circle.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how long you spend thinking about something, it refuses to make sense.

Like, are two radio DJs morally responsible for the death of a nurse who was involved in a prank call they made?

It has to be said, any death is a tragedy for the people involved, and close to the deceased. That’s a given.

But prank calls have been happening for as long as there have been phones, including prank calls to royals and other public figures – anyone remember the time the Queen got pranked by a DJ pretending to be the Canadian PM? Even Fidel Castro got pranked by a DJ in his day. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that someone would react to being pranked in such a way – and there may have been other factors at play in this sad situation, that we don’t know about yet.

But I keep reading Tweets and comments along the lines of, “Well, shame on those DJs. I hope they feel ashamed, they have blood on their hands…” 

Hmm.

So the DJs are morally culpable because a vulnerable individual was unknowingly made the subject of a prank call, the kind of which has happened thousands of times before without anyone ever being quite so upset by it. Okay.

But then why are we not equally outraged by the sorts of things I’ve been reading on Twitter about Chris Maloney, the former X-Factor contestant?

It makes no sense, to me.

From what I can tell, Chris is a moderately good singer, who was perceived as being a ‘diva’ in a reality programme that even its most ardent admirers must concede is edited and designed to seem as dramatic as possible.

At the end of the competition, Chris didn’t win and had a bit of a tantrum about the whole business, possibly had a few too many drinks, and said some mean things to people, before going home in a strop.

He made a mistake. In a ridiculously heightened, emotional situation he got drunk and behaved like an idiot. I suspect most of us – even without the added pressure of being on national TV – have done something similar at least once in our lives. And we’re blessed to have the sort of friends who are happy to feign poor memory and pretend it never happened, when we next see them.

But I look at Twitter and it’s pitchforks and judgment left, right and centre. Some of the Tweets I’ve seen today include:

    • Your only fans are your nan and her friends down at the bingo
    • Disgusted in the things I’ve heard lately, you didn’t even deserve 3rd place! Im glad I wasn’t fooled by you
    • Think of all the old people that loved you! Shame everybody else thinks you’re an utter tw@t
    • Don’t thank Gary,  he hates you just as much as everyone else.
    • You are a bellend
    • I hate u
    • THE TRUTH THAT YOUR A LYING SCUMBAG?
    • stay off the sunbeds fat lad

I mean, seriously?

He’s a singer on a TV show, who might have got a bit drunk and said something stupid. Is he really, genuinely deserving of strangers telling him he’s talentless, disgusting, hated, fat and a liar?

Why are we so quick to condemn the media for what we perceive as cruelty, but so slow to see it in ourselves? 

To me, this sort of mob bullying is far more worthy of outrage than a couple of DJs doing their job. And frankly, if you’re in the mood to chase someone with a pitchfork, how about the Tory idiot who reckons that “most parents don’t want gay children” but thinks “most people are very tolerant and don’t have a problem with people who are gay”.

What a tosser.

Anyway, I digress. Does this whole thing make sense to you?

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

16 Comments

  1. Phee
    11th December 2012 / 10:53 pm

    Completely agree! Fantastic post.

    • 12th December 2012 / 8:08 pm

      Thanks Phee 🙂

  2. Jane McColl
    12th December 2012 / 12:33 am

    One of the many many reasons that I HATE Twitter, most of it is just foul bile spouted off by hideous little trolls for attention. My friends use it socially but I refuse because most of it is just gossip and nonsense. I only use it for comping and for reading about products or blogs that I’m interested in. I don’t tweet personal stuff because I don’t feel the need to tell everyone every single thing that I do every day. Prank calls have been going on for years and it depends on the tone of that prank call as to how I would judge it. If it is innocent fun then fine, but to deliberately set out to humiliate, bully or set someone up for a fall that could have and affect on it’s victims and others then I don’t think it’s right. Sadly as the world is changing I realise that there are so many bullies out there who want to use social networking to big themselves up by picking on others. People need to think about what they are doing and what the consequences could be before they tweet, call, text or post a status that could cause distress or harm and because social networking these days is instant people don’t take that step back to think about the consequences of their actions. Ok so nobody saw it coming when that Nurse committed suicide, but if it had not have turned out so tragically she could have lost her job which would have also affected her family. That radio station involved innocent people to set up some kind of lame entertainment to find out personal details involving an unborn child who had no say in any of this, I find that in itself distasteful but I equally find Twitter bullying just as bad.

    • 12th December 2012 / 8:13 pm

      Some days I look at Twitter and it makes me so sad, not because anything’s directed at me, but because it’s directed at anyone – social media can be so savage, I agree.

  3. 12th December 2012 / 6:59 am

    Oh Sally I am so with you.

    With Chris Maloney I think just the fact he isn’t ‘cool’ made him an easy tagert from the start. I have felt sad and uncomfortable about how how has been treated all along. By the show too. And with the prank calls? Well it was a stupid thoughtless joke gone tragically wrong how terrible and how sad for EVERYONE involved. But no one set out to harm anyone it just went very, very wrong. My God how must those DJ’s feel too.

    I hate this mob rule metality, I have seen it in facebook groups too,,,its like humanity gets lost somewhere and people forget emotions, feelings, other people are really involved.
    Sadly with all social networks people can hide.
    Becky recently posted..Sunday Inspiration: LOVEDMy Profile

  4. Fee Horne
    12th December 2012 / 10:15 am

    Spot on. Brilliant post.

    • 12th December 2012 / 8:15 pm

      Thanks Fee 🙂

  5. 12th December 2012 / 2:24 pm

    There’s definately a mob mentallity to social media theses days. Until recently I worked in an industry where a lot of networking happens on twitter and the level of bullying towards some users was insane – most of it by influential people who should know better – which then provoked all their a**e kissers to jump on the band-waggon…quite scary.

    Great post.
    Sarah recently posted..How I Aim to Survive {Hosting} Christmas as a New MumMy Profile

    • 12th December 2012 / 8:15 pm

      Thanks Sarah, it’s scary to see people trash their entire reputation for the sake of being snarky on social media, I agree 🙂

  6. Kia @ A View From Here
    12th December 2012 / 5:19 pm

    I agree with you 100% on this – it’s crazy.
    As for the whole DJ thing – it wasn’t even the nurse who commit suicide that revealed any details – she just put the DJs through to a colleague who revealed the actual details – so the whole thing makes even less sense to me.
    Sure it’s tragic but truthfully if you were not the only one who was duped then how can it be your fault?
    In my (humble) opinion there is (was) something more in the young woman’s life than being pranked by a couple of DJs that led to her death.

    • 12th December 2012 / 8:18 pm

      I suspect you’re right and there could well be wider issues or context we’re not aware of, or another incident entirely that was the trigger – who’s to say? But even so, I do think given the thousands of similar pranks that have happened before meant nobody could have suspected what would come later. Such a tragedy, and I feel for all those involved – especially the family and friends, but yes, also the radio station and employees.

  7. 12th December 2012 / 6:43 pm

    I’ve made prank phone calls in the past to friends who I know can take the joke – and it was always something harmless and funny. Duping a stranger into doing something that her job forbids her to do is not funny and potentially very upsetting to anyone, even those not prone to suicide. I think it’s a practice that should be widely discouraged. When you dupe a friend you laugh about it together afterwards. When you dupe a stranger you are just using them for your own amusement and to hell with their own discomfort. Not nice at all.
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Candelabra KnishMy Profile

    • 12th December 2012 / 8:22 pm

      As I said further up, there are people to whom prank calls to strangers just aren’t funny – I know my grandmother always hated Jeremy Beadle and said she found the humour too cruel, when he’d make people think their house had burned down, or something similar. And I can understand and appreciate that perspective completely – I just don’t see that this instance was SO different to what’s gone before. So if we think Beadle et al are okay then this should be viewed the same way, despite the tragic outcome.

      I guess I feel comfortable with people saying they don’t like prank calls, or that it’s important to look at this and see if we can learn from it, but the whole “blood on your hands” and “global revulsion” is just taking it too far, in my view.

      • 14th December 2012 / 10:49 pm

        Except that Jeremy Beadle would tell the person straight afterwards, there would be no repercussions at work and they wouldn’t be left feeling guilty, or made to feel guilty in any way.
        I read another article that compared this to the hoax calls made by Jonathan Ross to Andrew Sachs about his granddaughter’s lewd sexual behaviour. Andrew Sachs says his relationship with his granddaughter hasn’t been the same since. Maybe only “global revulsion” will make people stop and consider the consequences before making prank calls.
        Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Candelabra KnishMy Profile

  8. TheBoyandMe
    12th December 2012 / 8:57 pm

    Again, people seem to forget that everyone has feelings and everyone is someone’s brother/sister/mum/dad/child/friend. It’s too easy to slag someone off publicly and not think how it might make them feel. Yes I have tweeted saying how someone might annoy me, but I try not to actually call someone a name.

    I don’t like prank phonecalls, I think it’s a bit pathetic. However, they couldn’t have foreseen this outcome and the nurse obviously had other issues. The saddest thing is the wider circle of people affected; Kate & her pregnancy, those DJs, her family, colleagues in hospital. As for Christopher Maloney, isn’t it a competition?

  9. Pressies by Pebbles
    13th December 2012 / 8:03 am

    Totally with you on this. I feel sorry for the djs. They were doing their job and a tragic accident occurred. Well written x

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