Friday, September 11, 2009

State of the Nation

When did we lose our sense of humor? First the Candy Man*, then Rocky the Rooster and now a group of doctors and nurses have their heads on the block. Their crime: boredom, poor judgement and Facebook. (Yes, a recipe for disaster if ever there was one, but in this case it’s not as bad as it could be.)

Here’s the setup: a group of seven doctors and nurses working the night shift decided to take part in a Facebook contest wherein you are to submit photos of yourselves lying face down in unusual places. So in the lull between stitching up knife wounds and digging plague pits for Swine Flu victims, they sneaked into a quiet corner and took some photos of each other lying on “unusual” things, like a gurney. (Really, someone lying on a gurney in a hospital? You could die laughing.)

Then they posted them on Facebook. Someone saw them. That someone turned them in. Now they’ve been suspended pending an investigation and may all be fired.

Okay, so they broke the rules. Now, I doubt there is a specific rule that says, “you shall not take photos of yourselves lying face down on gurneys for the purpose of posting to social networks,” but I’m sure there is something in the Employee Handbook that covers this sort of thing. Even so, would they be fired if someone caught them lying face down on a gurney. Of course not. Would they be fired if someone snapped a photo of them while they were lying face down on a gurney? I doubt it. So the reason everyone’s knickers are in a twist must be due to the photos appearing on Facebook.

Again, fair enough; it’s unprofessional and an embarrassment to the hospital that they hired people with such limited social skills. So haul them into HR, browbeat them for a bit, hand them an Official Warning and send them back to work. Then have a quiet laugh about it after you show them out the door.

That’s what normal people might do, but in this enlightened age it’s all, “patient’s lives at risk,” and “”Heath and Safety violations,” and “cost the tax payer thousands, no millions, no BILLIONS in lost wages and security and public trust and they are probably terrorists!” (Okay, I made that last bit up.)

It was a prank; get over yourselves.

Why, oh why do we have to blow everything up to such gargantuan proportions; don’t we have enough real dangers to tackle? When did we become such curmudgeons? When did we turn into our parents?

You may think it odd that I care so much, but I’m a humorist, and I see my livelihood slipping away before it even becomes very lively. What’s more worrying is, the way things are going, it may not do me any good to simply stop making jokes when I notice fewer and fewer people laughing and more and more people calling the police. I’ve got a book out, remember, I’m on record as being funny; they may institute some sort of retroactive humor law and I’ll find myself being swept up in a “Comedy Cull” for an off-color reference I made about Margaret Thatcher and a Doberman ten years ago.

So lighten up. Free the Facebook Seven, get a dictionary and look up the difference between “Prank” and “Malicious Intent.”

The mirth of future generations hangs in the balance.

* The victory of the Candy Box over The Council may be short-lived. I just found out they are now planning to outlaw ALL A-Boards, meaning that no shop—including the Candy Box—will be allowed to put up signs advertising headlines. It’s a draconian measure to get at one guy, but humor must be stamped out at all costs, and if innocent civilians become collateral damage, well, that’s a small price to pay.



  1. Anonymous12:24 PM

    Thanks for this, I had exactly the same reaction. Yes, poor judgement, but turning it into an employment job-on-the-line issue? Ridiculous.

  2. I totally disagree with your view, Mike! I think it's disgraceful behavior for anyone to participate in while they are at work - particularly doctors and nurses - and I don't think this "prank" is something that should be excused. I'm not surprised they were all suspended and may all be fired. There is a time and place for games and pranks and while at work - especially in a hospital - is not the time or the place!

  3. Pending an investigation? What more do they expect to find out? They were taking photos and putting them on Facebook. I doubt whether they'll lose their jobs because it's probably not in the employee handbook. Bit of a waste of money.

  4. Anonymous5:03 PM

    Mike, I'm running a special contest for people living in the U.K. so be sure to stop by and check it out.

    So, to your post. I see your point Mike and I do think sometimes we are too sensitive but on the other hand I would have to side with Maureen on this one a bit. With all the negligence that occurs in hospitals and with all the discussions taking place about health care now, this wasn't the swiftest of moves. They could lose their jobs because this will probably lead to questions about the lack of supervision and it's bad press and we know all know that image means everything these days.

  5. Hi all. Sorry to post and run but I unexpectedly ended up "off the grid" for a week due to going on holiday in Northumberland. Lovely holiday, by the way ;)