Social Question

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

What limits should there be for pranks?

Asked by TheProfoundPorcupine (2512 points ) December 7th, 2012

The news coming out of the UK right now is that the nurse who took a prank call from an Australian radio station about the Duchess of Cambridge being in hospital has taken her own life as a result of it. This has led to me thinking about what actually constitutes a prank and how much thought tends to go into them in the first place?

Thinking about the call that they made (where they pretended they were the Queen and Prince Charles and got updates on her condition) clearly they would have no way of knowing that this would happen, but would it not have crossed their mind that somebody may have lost their job at least over it?

At what point does a prank become more serious? How much responsibility does the media have in thinking through pranks in general before going ahead with them? Where is the line that should not be crossed?

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16 Answers

Shippy's avatar

Sorry not sure I understand the question. The prank was that the Duchess was in hospital and this lead to a nurse taking her own life?

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

The prank was that the Duchess was in hospital with acute morning sickness and 2 DJ’s in Australia called the hospital and tricked this nurse into thinking she was talking to the Queen and Prince Charles (they even had dogs barking in the background to replicate a Corgi) so she would reveal to them how the Duchess was progressing.

The nurse that answered was apparently distraught at what had happened and ashamed and today took her own life leaving 2 kids behind.

The actual question is more about pranks in general and what constitutes a prank or if there are limits where it goes from a bit of harmless fun into something that is more serious. As I said there was no way that anybody could expect this to happen, but there must have been a point where they thought somebody could be fired for giving out this information.

Shippy's avatar

Primarily I think there is something wrong with the nurse? To take ones life over this? A Royal having morning sickness? (I am quite puzzled, and possibly dig deeper the nurse surely had more real issues in her life?).

I had to comment since this is what promoted your question? I think pranks can go to far. Most of the time they do. My policy is, if people are not giggling through the entire prank, even the “victim” then they are fooling around with peoples heads. I don’t like it, and I feel that people should have recourse if this happens to them, or be able to report the people for abuse. As this is what it boils down to at times, emotional abuse.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy it did prompt my question as it was one that was asked on the news here as to when a prank goes too far. I agree that there must have been something else wrong with the nurse for it to result in this as well and that falling for the prank may have just been the straw that broke the camels back.

For me a prank is where the person that it is done to is able to turn from the anger (or being embarrassed) to laughing about it after a few minutes. If there is fear about consequences for the person, then the prank is more like bullying or like trolling on the internet where somebody will say something controversial just to get a reaction.

Coloma's avatar

Anything that has the power to cause serious harm, whether that harm be mental/emotional/physical, or… ends up defaming another, causes job loss, or public humiliation.
“Pranks” are intended to be FUN and FUNNY, not harmful.

Shippy's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine I agree bullying and a total disregard for another human being.

ragingloli's avatar

The limit should be that the number of fatalities should never exceed 1.

zenvelo's avatar

Any prank done on the air (TV or Radio) should be considered “too far”. The sole purpose of an on air prank is to embarrass the victim, and any protestation is dismissed as “not being fun” even though the prank can reveal something devastating or emotionally difficult.

JenniferP's avatar

I knew someone who when she was in a college sorority helped the other girls take apart some furniture of another girl. The girl didn’t know how to reassemble them and quit talking to them. On a court show a guy was suing another because he was pushed into a pool and his cell phone got damaged. I think that some jokes are pretty harmless but when you damage other people’s property or give them a big scare then that is overdoing it.

Coloma's avatar

I once told my ex husband on April Fools day that I wrecked his new car. LOL Priceless!
I knew he would completely flip out and it was very enjoyable in a passive aggressive sort of way. haha

Unbroken's avatar

I think you should know the person well enough to know how they will respond and also be able to take a return prank. No harm done. Or not too much and usually laughing and stories ensue.

gailcalled's avatar

I have always disliked pranks and have seen them as designed to embarrass (at best) and humiliate (at worse) the recipient.

ucme's avatar

A reaction to a prank can never be predicted, not accurately anyway. I’ve always been of the opinion that pranks should only be played on mutual friends whose limits & threshold are well known.
Suicide is never down to one specific trigger, but a culmination of circumstances spanning many weeks/months, clearly this nurse was a troubled individual & therefore vulnerable in the first instance. Which lends credence to my original point, not wise to prank total strangers.

flutherother's avatar

I was quite shocked by this incident and I have emailed the radio station concerned to let them know how I feel about it. I don’t see any need to presume the nurse was a troubled individual and if it wasn’t for the stupid phone call and the resulting publicity and embarrassment which was enormous she would still be working as a ‘first class nurse’ at the King Edward VII Hospital.

ucme's avatar

Suicide simply doesn’t work like that, I presumed nothing.

ucme's avatar

It’s important to note that this nurse simply passed on the callers to the nurse who was caring for Kate, she played no role in giving out potentially sensitive details about the royal patient.
In other words, had no real grounds for concern, unless she had weightier issues surrounding her life.

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