Why Did Nobody Help Nigella?

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Yesterday, I was shocked to see the pictures of TV chef Nigella Lawson in the news. The ones where Charles Saatchi, her husband of ten years, put his hands around her throat and pinched her nose – and which showed the utter terror on Nigella’s face.

The way she looked at him was like an abused child would look at its violent parents, never giving up on their quest for unconditional love. I found it frankly haunting.

The audacity of that man is stupefying. The fact he’s done this in public, in such nonchalant fashion, seems to strike me that this is nothing out of the ordinary for him.

I was also shocked to find out what else happened in there. Or to be more precise, what did not happen.

As reading up on the incident at Scott’s, a high-end restaurant in Mayfair, I found that no one, including the staff, tried to help that poor woman.

Neither did the paparazzi who took and then sold the pictures on to a tabloid – but that was to be expected from a celebrity stalker sans scruples.

The spokesperson of the restaurant stated: ‘we do not comment on the private affairs of clients.’

And the diners, they just gawped or continued with their meal, as if nothing happened. Then of course, there were the ones who felt the need to capture the scene on camera.

That, I found revolting and inhumane. Sure, sitting there was a famous person having lunch with her husband but at the same time there was also a scared woman being physically abused by that same man. Still whether the diners were amazed at seeing a celebrity eat or whether they were transfixed by the torment she had to endure, they should not have taken this up as a valid reason to point and shoot at her.

What happened yesterday proves yet again how the masses have turned into voyeurs, prepared to banish any empathy if it allows them to raise their Twitter profile or enables them to trend.

These days, gaining followers or getting that scoop, could be as big an ambition for some as it is for others to get that house on the lake.

It’s hard for me to grasp how these people can observe cruelty yet don’t believe it’s necessary to help the person in distress.

Instead they’ll whip out the phone, ready for camera-light-action.

It’s something I see more and more and I have written about it a few times already. One thing is, I will never get used to the imagery of seeing someone in clear need for help, to then see some idiots film or photograph the whole thing.

I realise that most of us have this burning desire to report big news to others, hoping to be the first one to do so. I am like that too and when I catch something important and tell others who in turn tell me they already know about it, I can’t but feel disappointed.

And, sometimes, being able to capture a drama developing in front of our eyes, can be a good thing too. Like last year, when that racist woman went berserk on the train and spat her xenophobic bile onto a fellow traveller. Luckily she got arrested in the end and that was thanks to someone filming the incident.

I also think that in some ways, the paparazzi, may have helped Nigella by exposing the potential domestic abuse she has been suffering behind closed doors.

Though, it makes you wonder, why did the filming person on the train not put his/her phone away to assist the victim who was being verbally abused? And what about the paparazzi, he could have helped too, no? I guess for him, his working day was finished once he filled up his digital card with more than he had bargained for.

Isn’t it though that if you see someone in clear need for help, you help? And if you can’t manage yourself, you get help? I thought this was always the rule.

Recently however, the abundance of technology has allowed abscesses to grow on today’s society, their poison twisting perceptions and re-defining some of the rules we got accustomed to. It may have changed our character too.

Our altruistic nature, slowly replaced by an attention-seeking, soulless and scoop-snagging freak. Not everyone will turn into such media monster of course, but the ones who do, will ruin it for the rest.

So how much more apathy towards our surroundings will we develop in years to come and what will be the result? Will we at some point, choose an image over a life?

It is possible. I just have to think about the accident on the New York subway last year, to realise we’re practically there.

The harrowing image of a man trying to drag himself back onto the platform after he had been pushed on the tracks, was beamed around the world.

The picture was taken by a reporter from the New York Post who happened to be on the subway platform.  Moments later, the train rolled in.

His excuse for photographing someone seconds away from death was: ‘I wanted to warn the approaching train by using my flash’.

For me, his excuse was pathetic. I’d like to believe that every normal thinking person would run to the edge of the platform to try and pull the man up to safety. He didn’t and chose to become the news instead.

It cost a man’s life but what is this compared to crawling out of obscurity and being known by millions of people? Even if that claim to fame is the result of showing death in the face.

Obviously most who heard about the subway tragedy, reacted with disgust but I am sure that should the opportunity presents itself again one day, several amongst us wouldn’t hesitate to do what the reporter did.

There is however no denying that there are people who genuinely freeze up when confronted with a perplexing situation. It’s something beyond their control.

It seems that these days, whoever claims they don’t know why there were watching, they just froze in place, still managed to point their camera in the right direction.

Today, Mr Saatchi has announced that the photos showed a couple having a playful tiff.

As such, we can all assume this is why Nigella ran out of the restaurant crying then. Their fun and games ultimately resulting in a playful finale – with racking sobs for effect. Oh how wonderful it is to joke around.

The thing is, if it had been a ‘playful tiff’, no one around them would have been aware of their penchant for sinister role playing and as such, they should have intervened no matter what. Not just sit there, watching, snapping away, uploading the pictures on a social site with caption: ‘Nigella Lawson is getting strangled here at Scott’s! :- ( ‘

I hope they’re ashamed now, the diners, the restaurant staff, though I have no hope for the paparazzi. Some I am sure, will feel remorseful for not reaching out when they should have.

Though, there will be others who will browse through their cherished pictures and feel privileged they were in the right place at the right moment, full battery and all.

They’ll be dining out on this for years to come. And –  they’ve got the pictures, the retweets and the obvious absence of a philanthropic gene to show for.

When it comes to Nigella, I hope she is okay and that she hasn’t become disillusioned, not only with her husband and her relationship but also with the ones who believe that life is nothing but a zoo.

Why Our Smartphones Deserve Flowers And Lingerie

There was that defining moment in London Bridge tube station where I came to the final conclusion that we’ve become people who lead lives weaved around our phones, Apps and social media.

Interestingly enough, this conclusion came by watching two twenty-something girls larking around on the Southbound platform of the Northern Line.

Both dressed in their obligatory Superdry ensemble, they took snaps of each other on their Smartphones and when one of the girls came to sit next to me on the bench, I noticed how she immediately started ‘photoshopping’ one of her pictures. The other girl, put her phone back in her bag and burst out in an impromptu session of playing the air guitar.

“What are you doing, you nutter?”, the photoshopping girl asked. She looked perplexed.

The other girl stopped her Not So Wild Rocker impersonation and said calmly: “I’m creating a Facebook update”.

“What do you mean?”

The other girl took her phone out of her bag again and didn’t say anything whilst punching in letters on her screen. She then handed the phone over to her friend.

“You are totally mad! You’ve just done some rocking on the platform so you can write it on your wall?”

“Yeah – and?”

“You crazy!”

Well I was taken aback too. I had just witnessed this remarkable scene with gaping mouth. Some girl had done a quirky thing on purpose, with the eye on an instant post on her Facebook.

A set-up to entertain her followers sitting in her handbag. Her life, clearly evolving around her phone and social media. It was a premeditated status update.

Of course, I had already established before that particular moment in London Bridge, that most of us seem to covet a particular close relationship with our phones. Especially in the last three, four years since Smartphones boomed and everyone started building themselves, a ‘window to their life’ through the many social platforms up for selection. In fact, that close relationship has become an extra special one.

As, where our mobile phone was once a tool to call, text and calculate, it now has become the equivalent of a modern age Swiss knife – with a parallel world attached to it. It is therefore fair to say that the possibilities of the modern day mobile phone have excelled our wildest imaginations (who would have thought hey?) – and don’t most of us exploit it to ridiculous extent?

Look around you on a busy street and what do you see?

Aside from the usual standards, you will see people with their phones out.

Most of them will zip like well dressed robots through the street whilst peering at their screen. They may be verifying the route to take or check their emails yet quite a few though will be in the process of updating their Twitter, Facebook and the likes.

Let me tell you, to me, these people are a bloody pain as I am always jumping out of the way for them.

Completely oblivious to their surrounding they are and always appear to move upon a wonky track. You can recognise them from the back by their zigzagging and slower pace, their necks stretched to allow their chin to rest on their collar bone. It’s a shame they no longer wish to participate in ordinary city life but I guess, it is more important to think of a funky hashtag with the eye on setting the tone for the latest trending in Twitter town.

When I see them crossing a road whilst still staring at their phone, I can’t help but mumble: bloody idiots.

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When you go past a bus stop these days, you will most probably see a crowd of people and almost all of them will have their heads bowed by default – focussing on their phone. These people will then get on that bus, swipe their Oyster card with one hand and with the other firmly clutching their phone, they’ll manage to press re-fresh in order to verify how many more ‘likes’ they’ve accumulated since they’ve updated their wall five minutes ago.

Obviously we see them everywhere, the people who are looking down rather than up. For, how much is the number increasing of couples sitting face to face in a cosy restaurant, their eyes fixed on the object of their desire yet it is not the person in front of them they’re concentrating on, it is their phone? Sometimes you see them laughing hysterically – usually it is because they’ve seen a funny Lolcatz appear in their news feed or are following a hilarious trend.

It just seems to be a true modern day sight.

It did go all so quickly though. I can remember the initial flush of love I felt when I got my first Smartphone. All of a sudden, there was no need any more for me to switch on my laptop as I now had the world in my hand. Everything seemed possible, I was forever connected, life was so much more appealing this way. Yet like with a lot of extreme passionate relationships, the rot sets in very quickly. Oh, I am still happy with my phone and I am absolutely not considering divorcing it. I however realise how much society has changed because of it – and it’s not for the better.

Why is it that so many of us have become totally obsessed by our mobile? How did we become these addicts who are always doing something on our phones but rarely use it to call any more? And, have we really forgotten what life was pre-Smartphone?

These days, I don’t see many people reading a paper or book on the tube. Instead, I watch them flicking coloured balls or fat chickens over their screen. Others are forever trying to pick up the WiFi at each station where they get about thirty seconds to go on-line The urge to drop a witty anecdote on-line is so big, you see them licking their lips as stress mode sets in when the WiFi cannot be picked up at a particular tube stop.

That ‘special’ relationship we have with it, has become too intense. So much even, I am surprised to see that we don’t yet buy our mobile, flowers and lingerie for Valentine’s Day. Our phones are after all the thing we fondle the most. We eat with it, sleep with it, hell we even take it with us to the bathroom.

My husband is always surprised to see me going to the loo to then read an update on my Facebook wall whilst he is waiting for me. That is another thing by the way: waiting time.

It seems to be almost unimaginable these days to wait for someone – just wait whilst doing nothing. No, we must take out that phone as soon as the other person leaves us for even a few minutes. There are far too many things to check out on-line to waste such precious time by doing nothing.

The option we now have to always be connected, wherever we are, has split the phone obsessed people in two different groups: the exhibitionists and the voyeurs. As, have you not noticed how some people never post anything on-line but always appear to be fully informed on others’ whereabouts? They are the ‘scrollers’ who hoover the lives up of others without giving anything back in return. Then there are the exhibitionists, who love nothing more than playing gallery with their lives and beside the jolly holiday snaps and quirky updates, you also get to know about the instant they are pouring themselves a beer. Re-fresh your phone whilst cooking a mean chill con carne and you’ll read the newest post: ‘Mmmm.. good beer’.

We may get irritated by such inane comments or laugh and get ourselves a beer too, we nevertheless keep checking and reacting by swiping our screen vigorously in any sort of environment. We know most of the content is rubbish and we realise the silly games we play won’t increase our conjunctive thinking power but, addicts as we are, we just can’t stop ourselves.

Yes, we’ve all changed so much but there are some good things about all this too. Having the internet in my pocket has saved the day on many occasions. Whether it was when I got lost in Manila or when we had a power cut at work and needed to ‘Google’ telephone numbers to inform our clients we were going home, or even better, when I saw a pair of pretty shoes in a shop and immediately checked their competitor’s website to see that they were offering the same for £25 less. I walked out of that shop, straight into the other to buy them – and thanked my phone.

The downside however is that we no longer appear to be people who connect with each other in real life. We seem more bothered about the constant stimulation we require through our phone and we appear to care less about the quality of it all. That makes me wonder what the future will bring if we allow ourselves to continuously sink into the parallel world we built inside our phones rather than focussing on the reality around us?

Is there a chance that the future generation will become a social awkward lot as a result of our obsession?

Then again, they will probably have enough Apps to entertain them for a lifetime.

Despite the fact that I do not like to be surrounded by people with their heads bowed nor do I enjoy seeing them loving their mobile more than their supposed beloved, I nevertheless agree that today’s phone is undoubtedly, a damn, fine thing. And let’s not forget, beside all modern age options they offer such as socialising on-line flicking coloured balls over your screen and being able to ‘Photoshop’ yourself to the extent of being unrecognisable, they allow you to do these incredible things too, like; call, text or calculate.

If only we could refrain ourselves of all this lovemaking in public.