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At what point does a silly prank become just plain bullying? And at what point do we say “enough is enough?”
I have to admit I used to laugh every time I listened to the prank phone calls by Elvis Duran on Z100. You know the phone tap segments — poor hapless individuals are phone-tapped by a member of the staff at the behest of friends or family.
The prankster would always go over the line. Then the hapless prankee, with steam blowing out of his or her ears, would yell, curse, and become so enraged that we, the listening audience, can almost see them having a stroke. At this point, the prankster, through peals of laughter says “this is so and so from the Z100 morning show and you’ve been phone tapped.” The prankee is now being carted off to the hospital with chest pains (only joking), eventually calms down, and then laughs good-naturedly along with the rest of us bozos, ending the segment and another successful phone tap.
I thought it was funny then, but I’ve since changed my mind. There really has to be a better way to raise the ratings and keep listeners entertained than to play these phone taps that only serve to embarrass and humiliate the prankee. With the way social media is today, phone pranks and getting “punked” is not funny anymore. In fact, it’s just downright bullying, plain and simple. The only purpose it serves is to cause embarrassment and a lot of hard feelings.
But that didn’t stop other radio stations from using the same formula — with devastating results.
When in Great Britain, a nurse was pranked into forwarding a call through to Princess Kate’s room, the prankee subsequently took her own life. Not a one of us was rolling in the aisles then.
Sure, there has to be more to the story than has been reported, but still, pranking in this case equaled bullying and that equaled a tragedy.
The hosts are out of jobs, the nurse is dead, her children are motherless and nobody is amused.
To top it off, the station that did the prank repeated the clips all day long. Of course it went viral on Youtube, along with all the other stupid pranks perpetrated around the globe, and everyone in the known universe had the chance to listen to it – thereby increasing her humiliation a gazillion fold.
No wonder the distraught woman took her life.
How do you stand up to that type of global humiliation?
Not for Nuthin™, but this sophomoric type of humor really has to end, we need to grow up a bit. You know as sophisticated as we may think of ourselves, isn’t it strange that we can’t figure out a better way to be entertained? Where no one has to be the butt of the joke.
Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.Joanna DelBuono writes about national issues every Wednesday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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