This week a study came out which said that more than 31 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were written last year. This was 6% more than the previous year and probably 80% more than it needs to be. The fact that this is so is for a combination of reasons too complicated to get into right now. For those of you pointing out the fact that I am not a doctor so what do I know – you are partially correct. I am not a doctor. However a few years back I was part of a nightly health series. The premise of the show was that each night there was a different condition highlighted. We would bring on someone who was currently suffering, someone who needed to be cured and a doctor. It became a running ‘joke’ with us on the show – ‘disease of the toe: antidepressants; ‘loss of hair: antidepressants’; ‘loss of husband: antidepressants’. Issues to due with prostates, erectile dysfunction, testicular anything: Proper Treatment. Of course there is a legitimate place for antidepressants but 31million prescription………….come on now (frown).
What does this have to do with politics or social-theory? A lot. It is a reflection on the ‘I don’t want to feel anything’ culture that we now choose to inhabit. Anything unpleasant rears its ugly head and we need to mask it or avoid it. God forbid we actually do anything about it. Why is that? Probably because most of us feel we can’t do anything about pretty much anything ‘bad’ in our world so if we can’t change it then let’s rob it of its power to hurt us. We hold it in, bottle it up, hope it goes away. Well of course it doesn’t. So every few years we need to release all this pent up hostility/aggression/frustration/sadness/et al. And it could be anything that trips the switch. Someone new to ‘hate’ on Big Brother, someone new to ‘love’ on X-Factor. That’s why so many of us like politics, a constant fresh crop of demagogues.
The first time I really became aware of this ‘collective outpouring’ was when Princess Diana died and now we are seeing a repetition in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Let me be clear. I was devastated, nay distraught when Diana died. Trotted off to Kensington Palace pushing the buggy with the child carrying one rose and us grownups lugging the contents of an entire flowershop. Weeping, bawling and general gnashing of teeth. Railing against the universe, you name it and it went on. Did I really give a monkey’s about Diana? Still not sure – yes she seemed nice enough but were there more important things in my own life that needed attending to both practically and emotionally – most definitely! But what was easier, crying for me or crying for a stranger?
As a mother I can completely empathize and understand the distress the McCann family must be going through.
However there is something terribly, terribly wrong in how this has been covered and it leaves a bad taste in some mouths. Are some lives more valued than others? Is the pain of some families deeper? If Madeleine had been on holiday with her single-mother from Slough would we care as much? If Madeleine had been a wee brown girl from Merseyside would we have cared in the same way? And most importantly are we man enough to admit the answers to those questions………..
Many commentators infinitely more competent than I (which means just about everyone)……..are now starting to raise their heads above the parapet and ask these questions and I say hats off to them. This is NOT about poor Madeleine and the distress of her family. This is about how the media chooses what we are interested in, sometimes to their own advantages. When we see primetime anchor newsreaders climbing out from behind their desks and going a couple of yards away to see what happened to two toddlers found dead in their beds rather than hopping on a plane to go somewhere sunny so they can show concern and support – then we may feel a bit more secure that we are really getting a cross-section of news, not just what’s ‘pretty’…………
Am I saying that we shouldn’t care about Madeleine? Absolutely NOT! Forward emails, put up posters, tie ribbons everywhere you can think of ——– but do it for everyone not just the pretty ones. Maybe if/when we start caring about more of the pain and suffering that goes on around us on an everyday basis – and doing something about it –there will be less of it, who knows we can only pray…………