Sunday, 11 April 2010

Letters, Chewing Gum and Communication

Gordon Brown sent me a letter this week. I wondered why he chose me to communicate with. We have never met, we hold fundamentally different political views and beliefs, and Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath is to be found on the opposite side the part of the Scotland I love to visit. In the interest of fairness and equal opportunities I expect I will also receive a letter from David and Nick – it is of course Election time again. Whilst I have voted at every opportunity there has been since I came of age, my interest, has since May 1997, being rather perfunctory. Since the 6th April this year I have become fed up with the wall to wall media coverage of an event that like the Olympics, the World Cup, and who wins Big Brother, frankly doesn’t do anything for me at all.

Clearly the Legacy Projects post Olympics are worthwhile, and the competition itself provides an opportunity for personal achievement, team working and at times an almost jingoistic level of support for competitors. Likewise I was able to see the huge developments and improvements to many areas of the fabric of the South African infrastructure as they prepared for the World Cup. As for Big Brother, the TV reality show named after George Orwell’s dystopian book 1984, and which some would say provides a new opportunity for sociological study, the incessant media hype that has usually accompanied the show turns me off Big Time.

Possibly it is TV as a form of communication media that I find is the rub. Of course, like everyone else, I have the ubiquitous flat screen TVs scattered throughout my house. I like watching the news, and indeed start my day at 5am watching the BBC News, and I try and do so wherever I am in the world. I am immensely interested in the human condition and the relationships that make up our everyday worlds. But I wouldn’t watch Coronation Street, EastEnders or Emmerdale to feed this interest, in fact I wouldn’t watch them at all. Whereas I would go out of my way to watch and or record Outnumbered which I think brilliantly captures and observes everyday family life, and of course who could miss Have I got News For You or Top Gear, both of which connect with my sense of humour. So in many respects I am no different from others, perhaps just have different tastes.

As I observed last week, respecting difference is important. Thanks to those of you who took the time to make a comment. I waited until this post to respond to the question raised in one of these comments. This was around a concern that Blogs as a form of communication were being discouraged by the University.

I don’t know if our University is becoming less keen for colleagues and or students to write blogs. I would hope not. Blog's, as a form of communication can be very effective. Of course there will be boundaries that get set, challenged and re-set from time to time. I have noted in previous blog’s the tensions I experience from time to time in feeling able to present issues that others might feel bring my organisational position or professional standing into disrepute. In response to the other part of your question, I am a nurse and proud to be known as one. I understand the responsibilities to the profession that come from making such an assertion. However, as noted above, I also have views about a whole range of issues, concerns and phenomena that often have nothing directly to do with nursing. I have been fortunate to find many avenues to get my ideas and thoughts into the public domain and have benefited from the resultant discussion as other agree or disagree with what I have said.

Personally, I would suggest that anyone thinking about undertaking a degree which would lead to a professional career such as nursing, medicine, law and so on, should be more wary about their use of more main stream social networks such as Facebook, than writing blogs. Arguably such social networking sites may unintentionally provide a record of personal experiences that would perhaps best be kept private and personal and not given an airing in the public domain. It also seems to me to be a rather sad enterprise that is masquerading as communication. It was Frank Lloyd Wright who once remarked that television is chewing gum for the eyes. This was modification of Karl Marx’s observation that religion was the opiate of the people. Perhaps we need to find a new metaphor for social networking. And finally, I note that Gordon, David and Nick have said they would be happy to make video responses to questions sent via Facebook and UTube about their polices and plans for the future. So perhaps Gordon does know me after all, and hence the letter he sent me on Friday.