Here’s what we did to the world. This is Valdoltra. It is renowned to be one of the best orthopedic hospitals in this part of Europe. It was also believed to be the kindest surrounding for patients. The photo shows the empty halls of children ward. Yes, it’s dark and sterile, just like you probably know hospitals. Well, you probably know them by total chaos and indescribable crowd, too, but that’s a different story. I want to focus on this sterile environment to show you how far we’ve come in less than 20 years.
For the past few months I’ve been photographing a story I believe should be told in full, not just bits and pieces we see in the media quite often. Therapy dogs. Oh yes, there are many articles around, but none of them grasps the entire scope of what these dogs do. My aim of course is to help this therapy get stronger and so universally known that one day it would be funded by our sinking country. Yes, despite the common definition of a photographer (and citizen) in Slovenia, I’m not doing this for myself, but to give something back. Remember, I spent my childhood in hospitals as well, many of them are those that I’m visiting now, and frankly, I’d love to have been a part of such a therapy. Unfortunately, people back then didn’t even know the risks of vaccination, let alone that any alternatives exist. After all, doctors tried reviving my leg with electroshocks.
But we’ve come from Medieval practices to postmodern paranoid existence also by the use of media. See, what people nowadays don’t know, because a college professor’s idea of introducing education on how to critically view media was crosschecked by bigger power&money-hungry entities, is that today’s media is 80% primitive selfish gain for attention and money while the other 20% is educational, has a greater purpose and is well intended. But it’s easy to be fooled. The majority rules the shelves. The majority also rules the web and TV. And since their morals are inferior to their gluttony, the economic, capitalist self-serving function, they can easily use methods to reel people in that are at least questionable. Most people still don’t question themselves why a news network website looks like the sleaziest tabloid, if not a porn site. Brainwashing.
Although it seems I’ve wandered away from the topic, I’m still very close. And this context is crucial. What we are bombarded with in the media constructs our reality. We picture the world through media, because our personal experience is nothing more than a bit of traffic, a long working day in some cubicle, and a trip to the shopping center. They won’t notice the twenty percent of wise media. They won’t go read National Geographic, they’ll pick out of five other long shelves of flashy shameless magazines invading someone’s privacy for their own selfish purposes. And yes, ego-tripping people have flooded the media. With no correlation to the real world, it is no wonder that people tend to see the world as it is shown to them by the media. Little do they know how many times information is misrepresented, or how puffed up it is, especially if they watch pop tv.
Another example. CNN has covered the anniversary of 9-11 with a soft, calm, respective rhetoric and showing acts of kindness, remembrance, respect, and showing citizens sowing together a torn flag. We switch to our own commercial tv and we hear barking, aggressive tone, panicky, swift and in a hurry as if in an emergency. No kindness, the topic is completely different. It’s all about the frightened, shocking report of how New Yorkers are awaiting and are terribly afraid of a new big terrorist attack with police all over the place, actually the police has “flooded” the streets etc. For an average Slovenian who only watches this crap, the paranoid rhetoric along with the news given to them has shaped the perception of reality.
The twenty percent of smart media, the non-selfish ones, are sidelined. People believe most media are out to do them harm, just because so many of them really do. Or they want to invade their privacy for shallow articles with hardly the context of seriousness the story perhaps demands. And finally, when we speak of photojournalists, it’s only the elite that is trusted by people. Which in some cases, like the news channel website I mentioned earlier, is pretty irrational, but goes to show that people tend to let others do their thinking. If more than half a population deem one media popular, then that’s what they’ll watch and read. Because people have inherited from the past the idea that what’s popular and worshipped by many is also good. Amazingly, their mind doesn’t activate even when they see the majority of news on the media’s website is for example naked women. Instead, they take it into account. And that’s how the feeble human mind is transformed from an intelligent one to a primitive one. That’s why people who used to read quality newspapers now read articles that are poorly written, superficial and misleading for the purposes of collecting views. Not to mention throwing in a naked woman or two just to be on the safe side. They think that’s the norm these days. Well, you made it the norm.
So let us now return to Valdoltra. Twenty years ago, the ward was a happy bright place. Children running around playing, socializing, meeting new friends, laughing. Kids in this ward don’t have diseases that would prevent them from being active and happy and communicative. Only people can. And they did.
These kids can walk and the ward is quite small and as you can see, it’s not very busy, so there’s no danger for the kids. But 20 years of media rhetoric and news selection and the way that news is presented have created a paranoid society. A society that couldn’t see past the media to inform themselves of what the world is really like, so they just went with the flow. Restriction after restriction and now there’s no more kids in the hallways. They don’t visit each other in their rooms anymore. Hardly a new friend is made. It’s quiet. No more laughing. The air and sound, all sterile. It’s a vacuum. Why? Because we have come to believe there’s someone who wants to abuse us or our trust or our lives on every step. We have come to trust nobody, believing they act out of their selfishness, greed or any other personal interest. People have come to believe everybody is out to get them. Stories of good people and those that educate the world or do something good (when we speak of hospitals) are so rare here that people immediately think of how the media would trash the story if they show interest in their institution. They immediately think of how negatively they would be presented. Or how they would be abused. No one does a story about people in the hospital, unless they want to show how bad the hospital is, right? So surely whoever wants to do these stories has some hidden agenda. That’s how far we’ve come by media negativism. In the US, hundreds of medical stories are made, all of them with good intent and positive feedback that usually helps the people in the story. Which in turn makes these people grateful for journalists coming to their rooms and telling their story. Simply because the media have shown that they mean good. But here…
Valdoltra’s security measures are merely a reflection of reality. The media have brainwashed an entire population and it’s that many that can change the world. If they’re dumb and ill-informed, then the world will have to follow or suffer the consequences. So the sterile environment in the children ward is an answer to parents exhibiting extreme paranoia and lack of trust to people who are basically very much like them. They forced the hospital to undertake such measures bz fearing parents like them, all having kids in the hospital. And these kids are now not allowed to visit each other in their rooms anymore. They must stay in their rooms. To make matters worse, the rooms are populated by having the least possible amount of kids in them. So basically, a child could be alone in there and not allowed to go visit a friend in the next room. Furthermore, there are no personal objects ANYWHERE in the room. It’s like it’s just the kid and nothing else. Nothing personal. Even the charts that hung on the bedside rails are gone. Just empty plastic holders. I ask why. We loved to read our own charts and to see the date of our going home… They said they’re not allowed to, because of privacy protection.
I think this ward just might be the culmination, the summary of what have we become in 20 years through the misuse of the media. Through our failure to understand the workings of capital driven media. We’ve failed to protect ourselves. From brainwashing. And now you’re going to take away the life experience of your kids because of that. Because you’re downright stupid.
When it comes to producing medical stories, if a freelance journalist wants to do a story like this, it will be difficult. You’re not big and important like the crappy popular media. But who cares if they’re crappy if they’re popular, right? And besides, who even thinks they’re crappy? 😉 And of course, Slovenians are known for their blindness to long-term benefits, and failure to project into the future. So when somebody they deem small wants to give them something back, not only do they think they will be abused, but they also don’t want it, because in their mind it’s all or nothing. They don’t see a small contribution as a step to building something more. They think it’s worthless. And simply because they’re not used to working step by step to reach a goal. Most people in this country got their success or wealth almost instantly through channels other than years of hard work. Hell, even the country itself rose seemingly in an instant when we took on euro etc. So the mentality of this nation does not allow for understanding a small contribution to be one of many steps to something much bigger. If you can’t give us a lot, then you don’t have to give us anything. Wow. What a brainfart.
It’s fairly normal that when someone wants to tell the story in the right manner, and make it positive, and try giving something back, the brainwashed minds of people will build walls. And with that, they will allow the media to continue blocking serious, educational, positive and humanitarian stories, while the negative, the primitive, superficial, selfish, dumb stories will prevail. You’re doing it.
I have met institutions that understood what I’m trying to do and I’m grateful. One of these is a rehabilitation center in Dornava. And despite the fact that only one photo was published, because print media have limitations, my intention is to present these stories in full online at Dax Photo. Which is currently offline for the sheer purpose of reconstructing so that it would look better, because I want to present these stories in a manner worthy of them. I think it’s pretty difficult to understand this. Too many people in Slovenia are abusive self-centered opportunists; so it’s not easy to believe that my only concern is that I wouldn’t give the people in my stories back enough. …
We’ve created a world of low respect and no trust.
I’m old school. And I have difficulty living here.