Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: twitter

Experts; aren’t we all?

What makes Doctors think they are special, “so very special” that they don’t have to work 7 days a week like many of us? Actually, in reality, Doctors do already work 7 days a week on rota but they currently get more money for weekends than what’s being offered in their new, soon to be imposed contract. How you side in this Junior Doctor’s dispute, be it the emotive BMA “patient safety” or the Government “manifesto commitment to a 7 day NHS” against the constant “crisis” backdrop the NHS is always in, the whole thing is all about money.

Back to the initial question. What makes Doctors think they are special? Is it the commitment to be a doctor that starts in their early teens when they select their GCSE’s? Is it the vision, commitment and passion to select and get the right A Levels and grades to match? It could be the 4/5 years at Medical School followed by a decade or more of training, exams, more training and more exams? Maybe it is the constant changing of jobs and hospitals to gain vital experience, which could also mean travelling 100’s of miles a day, including at weekends? Perhaps it’s the failed relationships and missed family moments as being a doctor is all-consuming? Hard to know really what makes a Doctor special but in a world of Google and Social Media, where we can diagnose ourselves without having to do any of the above, what’s the point of all that effort and commitment? Doctors aren’t special. We don’t need experts.

During the now widely discredited Referendum Campaign (discredited on both sides in a report by the Electoral Reform Society published this last week) one of the most revealing moments was when Leave campaigner Michael Gove (remember him) said “I think people in this country have had enough of experts”. Experts had been telling us what might happen if we chose to Leave or Remain in the EU. It is fair to say that following the result to leave on 24th June all of the doom predicted by those experts has not happened, so far. In fact, after the initial shock, the UK economy has returned to pretty much where it was when the (then) Prime Minister David Cameron (remember him) called The In/Out Referendum in February this year. It’s been a very long 7 months.

Is Michael Gove right in his assertion that we don’t need experts? Is our existential age a time of instant information and connectivity to anything, everything and everyone making us all instant experts? We can now have hundreds of “friends”, we crave “likes” and most of us have more “followers” than Jesus could manage when he was “alive”. Does this means we don’t need real experts, doctors, elected politicians, public servants, journalists, newspapers, radio, TV because we can all get what we want when we want it, all at a click or swipe or scroll? The internet has democratized information and for those who wisely choose to go beyond one single source of information or a single “trusted” news site we can be better informed. You can check and cross reference anything.

Yet there is a problem with all this. If we don’t like what we see, read or hear we can trash it, troll it, attack it and get our “friends” and “followers” to pile in too. We don’t need experts. Your opinion is not mine. Your politics is not mine. Your race is not mine. Attack. We live in the moment were we can easily be extreme and many relish this. We are entitled to do so. We are entitled. Nobody is worth more money than me. Nobody. Social Media is allows us to be everything including judge, jury and expert.

Starting with newspapers many centuries ago, for almost the last hundred years radio followed by TV was all we had. This so-called traditional media is now changing fast to adapt to the social media world and rightly too. As this old media tries to marry with the new maybe the new needs to respect the old a little bit more than it currently does. Our rush toward Social Media is not taking account of the long path it took to get to this point. It took hundreds of years from the first printing press to create the first mass-produced published book. Facebook is just 12 and half years old. Would you just trust a 12-year-old with your life, business and future? We need to respect what was and how it came to be more than we currently doing or we risk losing the bath water, baby and the bath.

This is the case with junior Doctors too. We need to respect what happened in the past. This past and path gave us the Consultant Medics and Surgeons we rely on today and will have to rely on even more with the coming strikes. Both sides in the Junior Doctors dispute would do well to remember this and would do better to talk less and listen more. Doctors know better than most the power of listening. It saves lives. Taking a “history” is vital to diagnose and treat anyone. We need to respect our past, our experiences and do a little less existential scrolling, clicking, swiping and living. Doctors are special and we do need experts.

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Time to grow up Master W W Web

The internet is a quarter of a century old and has changed our lives in ways few could have imagined, including those who created it. From the desk top to the lap top, from the tablet to the smart phone and Smart TV if it’s not connected and you are not connected then what is the point? None. The next big thing is the ‘Internet Of Things’ and we are all nodding in agreement, hurtling to a brave new digital world. But are were actually understanding it or taking a breath to consider whether we should?

The Internet we know now has gone through many evolutions since the switch was first flicked in 1989. The chirpy chirp of dial-up and websites that took forever to load to the revelation of broadband to the expectations of ‘I want it NOW’ super fast broadband. What next? Wicked Super fast broadband with gold bar and oak leaf cluster? Whatever it will be it will never now be enough and the next change will be but moments away. You will have just got your head around all the latest technology and wallop it is all new, again.

The Internet is truly democratic, as intended from the outset. It’s beyond government control and even those governments that try to control it fail. The Internet and it’s offspring Social Media are also home and voice to the angry, unhinged or obsessed. On line they can be found venting their frustrations, conspiracy theories and hounding their victims. There are those who seek to expose others a la Ashley Madison. The Internet gives form and expression to anyone who wants to use it with very few consequences to the user. The target, on the other hand, can be all but destroyed. Some who have been targeted and trolled on-line have taken their own lives. I’m pretty sure Sir Tim Berners-Lee didn’t envisage that back in 1989 when the World Wide Web began.

The Ashley Madison hack and subsequent ‘data dump’ is a very interesting moment for the web. It’s not that all personal data taken and now available to anyone with a computer. No. This is proof once again how vulnerable we are by putting such personal data on-line in the first place. If you think putting anything on-line is safe then you’re a fool.

Millions use the web for sex and, of course, there is a ‘dark Internet’ because any market place will develop a black market. The big and very real digital problem is our reliance on the web combined with our trusting nature. This hacking event shows us all what will be our undoing. Next time it could be Facebook, Twitter or your bank.

If you want to have an affair, sex or watch some weird stuff on-line then it really is all but a click away. And you’re not alone in doing that either. Some of those clicks are illegal and those who do make them to watch stuff illegally or view stuff that is illegal should face the full force of the law. The rest of us? Maybe we need to think about what we are doing. Would you put up your name, address, email details and pictures of your children in the front window of the house for all the street to see? The internet is way bigger than you front window and you can never take it down.

So how to make the Internet grow up? Simple. Remove the ability to have any fake identity that so many wish to hide behind when on-line. I would admire those who hacked Ashley Madison and what they are trying to achieve if they were actually brave enough to put their real names to their cause. Whatever you may think of the alleged rapist Julian Assange, still hiding out in fear in a London embassy broom cupboard refusing to face justice, at least he has he put his name to his on-line work with Wikileaks. Same can also be said for Edward Snowdon, although I don’t think he’s been a ‘naughty boy’ too, allegedly. You may not agree with what they did but they did put their name to their actions. If you are going to cry freedom and free speech then you have the courage to put your name to it otherwise it’s not free. If you believe it, stand by it with your name.

The simplest way to make the Internet grow up would be to make everyone have a real profile using their real name and details. No more hiding, no more trolling and no more extremism, vile intent and perversion hiding behind a shroud of anonymity, freedoms and, ultimately, sheer bloody cowardice.

Islamic State and the state of social media

A British born jihadist beheads an American journalist in a self-declared Islamic State to affirm a caliphate by posting it on social media.

Those who use social media, and include myself in this, are wondering what these platforms are all about this week. The use of social media by Islamic State, IS as they are now called, is quite brilliant. Many companies and celebrities would love the attention and ‘penetration’ that IS are achieving in getting their message and methods out to the world. This is a world IS want to destroy or at the very least return to their 14th Century version of Islam. The juxtaposition of using the very apex of the 21st century communication to tell the world they are wrong and IS is right cannot be lost on them, or us.

This is the biggest issue with social media and, as has already been proven by the internet, social media is fast becoming out of control as it is being used for purposes unimagined and is now beyond the control of its creators. As fast as IS have an account closed they open another; its like a cyber version of wack-a-mole. Advocates of Twitter and Facebook, who are public companies with shareholders and business models and bottom lines to achieve, have been and are being duped. I include the BBC in this.

It would seem implausible that any BBC presenter, paid from the public purse on a network that does not advertise at all, would be allowed to say ”call me on your Blackberry or Apple mobile ‘phone, using your Vodafone provider or you can use your BT landline and your Currys ‘phone to make that call, or you can even use Royal Mail to write to me using your Parker pen and Basildon Bond paper”? They are all businesses looking for custom and profit, just like Facebook and Twitter yet social media is exempt.

Television viewers and radio listeners are regularly invited to tweet, post or like on Twitter and Facebook. It seems okay for everyone in the media to freely advertise social media providers, encourage their use, to create and enhance the platform of millions of connected users and, by endorsement, imply it’s a good thing.

Here is the reality from this weeks shocking news. A simple click of a link on social media can take you to a video of a kitten in an oversized wine glass looking cute, a drunk Russian trying to stand up in the snow or an innocent man, a son, a journalist being murdered by someone whose twisted view of his faith makes him ‘believe’ his actions are just. You are a click away from the worst of humanity, faith, belief, and what you may know or feel is right or wrong. You have no control over this unless you opt out completely. Social Media has no control either and IS know this.

Sharing views, keeping followers or friends informed is one thing but social media is fast becoming something more and it has now contributed to the murder of James Foley. Social Media gives IS a platform and that platform allows them to ‘share’ their message, ‘post’ their actions, their followers to ‘retweet’ it and there is nothing we can do about it. There is nothing social media providers, these listed companies with shareholders and profits to make can do about it.

So the question is ‘would James Foley still be alive if social media didn’t exist?’. If the act of his brutal murder couldn’t be ‘shared’ or ‘tweeted’ or ‘retweeted’ would IS have done it?

The conclusion could be to beware the advocates of social media, those who claim it is the future and we must embrace it, do more on it, make it part of our every day lives, plead for tweets or posts. Most of all beware of those who have the need for ‘followers’ and ‘friends’. These are some of the many lessons of this week.

One last thing. The bravery of James Foley shown in his face against the masked face of ‘Jihadi John’ who was unwilling to show the world his face by hiding in the cowardice of non identity and clearly lacking in any confidence that his ‘god’ believes in him tells us much about this version of Islam and IS.

N.B

I am aware I have used Social Media to publish this blog. That irony is not lost too.

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