Insightful read between the lines from Marina Hyde:
Sydney Pollack’s disturbing movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? exposes America’s Depression-era dance marathons for the cheap, dehumanising spectacle they were. Half-dead with exhaustion, participants were subjected to ever-harsher judgements and elimination events, watched by huge crowds of people who, for obvious reasons, had little money and endless hours to kill.
As we lurch towards our own depression era, then, thank heavens for health minister Ben Bradshaw, who this week announced plans for patients to rate GPs on an NHS website, posting comments on everything from perceived competence to bedside manner.
We can dispense with the dance hall, thanks to the information age, and simply gather virtually to watch surgeries take a beating from people – anonymous people, naturally – who don’t realise that not giving antibiotics to malingerers is actually excellent medical practice.
It is joined-up government, finding its image in virtually every department, a great daisy chain of stupidity, stringing together the cheapest and basest ideas to give people the illusion of empowerment.
It’s hard to find words for how stupid the modern system is. “Illusion of empowerment” says it best: the crowd, who are defined by not wanting to invest themselves too much in government, love transparency, openness, rights, and other absolute universal concepts. They seem to protect us, even though these are guarantees on paper and nothing else.
In the same way, we as crowds seem to feel relaxed that our media is “watching out for us,” even though they need to make a living too, so they’re as much entertainment as news.
And we’ve seen on the internet how anonymous comments bring out the worst in people. Frustrated in daily life? Take it out on others with a comment. Or, just draw attention to your screen persona for being witty or cruel.
This issue goes far beyond comments on doctors, but it’s a good introduction by way of example.