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Digital rubber-neckers can cause secondary accidents with their sick drive-past photography

MBF Blog has gradually been building audience/followers for over a year now. It’s almost the same length of time that I‘ve been contributing blogs and articles.

In the main these have been deliberately balanced, third-party written, thoroughly researched and informative pieces that have been designed to amuse, question/provoke and imply criticism.

From now on, as we enter the next phase, some MBF blogs will go a little more provocative. Every now and then I will blog using the technology-society interface to challenge, doubt, openly criticise and stir up, just for the hell of it….. And because that’s also part of the effect technology is having on people and their lives.

Feel free to comment and join in the discussion!

Facebook ‘dangers’

So, here goes. School children and teenagers are to be given lessons from next term on ‘the dangers of Facebook and the internet.’

Not dangers in making risky hyped-up financial investments in over-valued Facebook shares. But, according to the Information Commissioner’s office, they will be taught the ‘potential risks of posting online information and the rights they have to demand that websites delete their data.’

That’s all well and good, and to be modestly welcomed.

Youngsters will not be taught how the police can hang on to their DNA profiles forever, if taken when they are arrested for almost all suspected offences. Nor will they be taught the huge potential value of their own data. Just the dangers of posting.

I imagine that the new teaching may be confined to generalities like ‘don’t post news that your parents are away for a few days and it’s open house at your address…’

Neither will they be taught the wider implications of loss of personal freedoms like:

  • freedom to be private in certain places,
  • freedom to express views in private that may offend others
  • freedom to be different in an increasingly conformist world.

Personal Freedom Is Vanishing

Ask the Duchess of Cambridge about her personal freedom to be topless in a hot country in a private house in front of her husband alone.

There are all sorts of issues rumbling along to keep the media happily busy and bringing free publicity to the French magazine responsible for taking and trying to flog the snaps:

  • the ability of the long range lens technology
  • the right to personal space
  • the Royal Family in general and Kate and William in particular
  • the parallels of paparazzi behaviour with Diana, Princess of Wales
  • the rights of a free press to earn a living and report on celebrities since the majority of people seem to enjoy celebrity worship

However, issues aside, it’s far more about the instant transmission of data nowadays that was not possible a generation ago. What sort of information is transmitted and what is done with it?

People seem to have accepted, or at least become resigned, to the constant CCTV cameras watching them. Britain has become the most watched people on earth. The advent of reality TV kissed goodbye to all but the last shreds of privacy.

In some cases it took with it the last vestiges of dignity too, as people expect to have everything from drunken antics to their shopping being available for others to gape at round the clock.

The bereaved and hurting are often further tortured in their grief by trolls who set up mocking, satirical or malicious lies about people who have died by suicide or tragic accident. While steps are being taken to bring perpetrators to book, nonetheless, the feeling persists that in an open-web society, it’s just how it is.

Digital Rubber-Neckers

Now Norfolk Police have highlighted a new phenomenon which is becoming evident across the whole country. The Eastern Daily Press of 15 September led with a story from Crime correspondent Pete Walsh reporting how drivers are increasingly slowing down at road accidents not to go slowly for safety reasons and not to safeguard rescue workers.

No, they slow to take pictures of the scene with smartphones.

These ghoulish drivers and passengers are then posting the images on the internet, presumably to make a few quid on YouTube, because there are thousands of sickos as interested in the mishaps, injuries and deaths of others who will want to watch.

Norfolk and Suffolk Police are threatening to prosecute the almost 20% of motorists who hold a phone as they drive. They will be guilty of using a mobile while driving, not being in proper control of a vehicle and driving without due care and attention.

Additionally, such people, labelled ‘morbid voyeurs’ by the AA’s president Edmund King, risk causing further accidents themselves and putting intolerable strains on emergency services.

The Government should increase the penalties for these motoring offences. It hasn’t yet come up with a fitting punishment for macabre intruders who exacerbate the pain and suffering of relatives by their actions. Would they like it if a relative of theirs was a traffic accident victim?

But then, hang on a minute: focussing on the trauma of a mishap to satisfy some strange curiosity… isn’t what most grief reporting is in the media anyway?

Related reading:

Just How Valuable Is Your Web Data?
‘Anonymous’ on the Web Is Now a Rare Breed
A New Evil from Sick People Stalks the Net
Celebrity Worship Syndrome: the New Religion for Many People
British People Have Become the Most Watched & Recorded on Earth
Eastern Daily Press, Pete Walsh, Digital rubber-neckers, 15 September 2012

Image: Huhu Uet