Towards the new life style of media communication

Increasingly bright tones on socials, where anger is the dominant emotion. Numerical news with data reporting yes the number of contagions and the number of people who died from Covid-19, but nothing on the average age of contagions and the average age of deaths. We must continue to find those from the Epicentro data of the Italian National Health Institute. Numbers on the potential efficacy of vaccines without there still being any evidence-based scientific publication demonstrating not only their efficacy but also their toxicity.

These are the omnipresent and pervasive news in newspapers, TV and social media: the only advantage of social media is that they come before the classic media, but the accuracy/surficiality of the information is almost the same everywhere. In the news, there is almost always the reporter outside the Sacco Hospital who gives the numbers of hospital admissions and waits for the infectivologist on duty, outside the Spallanzani the same scene, and still growing for new connections in front of COVID-19 centres in Italy. This phenomenon in a continuous crescendo since February 2020, which has only had a few stops in front of the American elections. Infectivologists and epidemiologists are invited to any talk show, they receive complaints live on TV, of which the journalist is the ambassador: a great numerical narration – I repeat incomplete – of dates, economic collapses, health care defeats, but social narration is absent, a narration that would allow to frame how citizens intoxicated by this infodemia live.

In the seven pillars of well-being – the Chart of Humanities, elaborated with a group of Medical Humanities experts – we agreed: use socials with measure and listen to the news in moderation.[1] Not because we are afraid, not because we are fragile and vulnerable, but because est modus in rebus, there is a measure in all things. The question I ask myself: don’t journalists tire of reporting the news in the same way every day? Wouldn’t they want to communicate in a more effective and useful way for people in this dwell time? Yet, there is an art to communication, an art that enchants, the use of the word as a therapeutics as such, even when it gives news that can be of little pleasure.

I had written, in an article published by Il Sole 24 ore[2] in May, “citizens have been left alone at the mercy of the media” and I repeat, unfortunately, the same sentence, with an aggravating circumstance that errare humanum est, perseverare, autem diabolicum – (today I like Latin), errare is human, but perseverare diabolic. On the other hand, media is also a Latin word, it means medium, instrument, even if later transformed into mass-media English. Certainly it is not easy to communicate bad news, uncertainties, prohibitions, and increasingly narrow perimeters: however, it would be nice if in times of serious difficulty more creativity of thought and therefore of language were used, also to literate citizens not only on what is happening but on what can be resources to leverage, as well as those related to the health service. I am referring to existential resources, because COVID-19 has created a life disturbance on which I am not even going to make a list: the reader understands it immediately and subjectively understands this expression of mine – indeed I ask the reader to breathe for a minute and take a break to understand how this upheaval has been for her/him.

For the future we are talking about a return to a new normality (new normal): this definition has been used to change the name of smart working and simply – with a mere truism – to say that there will be a new normality. Actually, the term new normal has much wider implications, concerning more attention to the planet and environmental sustainability: but how many of us print and TV users have ever heard and reasoned about this term, which personally seems to me extracted from the neo-language of Orwell’s 1984 novel (on the other hand, yes, sometimes it seems to be the protagonists of a dystopian novel)? And yet, let’s ask ourselves: are we really in a dystopian novel? Or maybe we were already before, when we took one plane after another, we used to go shopping on Saturdays, every evening was an aperitif, we had very dense diaries (even now), we threw things away without thinking about it, we deforested, polluted, exploited the planet as if it were our slave, or rather, given that it was Gea, the earth, one of our slaves? I ask the reader once again to breathe and think about how he is living his relationship with his home and the perimeter around it. Was it normality? There must have been intelligent traits in that normality but also stupid, violent and uneconomic automatisms in the deepest sense of the term.

I don’t like – and never have – the word normality, which means flattening towards a common average, and I fight for diversity, for multiple intelligences, for the plurality of approaches, so I would rather see the new normal as a new life style, a new lifestyle. Something more radical, profound and innovative. And now I ask the reader for another minute of breathing space to create those two solutions that will allow us to innovate this way of staying at home and in the small area made usable in this pandemic. Here, referring to the media, this second part of the piece was an experimental attempt to involve those who read, those who listen and those who see, without the reader being a person to throw on (and I assure you throwing on is an understatement because for what is happening others are the expressions that came to my mind) in a superficial way so much information without the remedia, those remedies that can help us in this time of change, which is no longer a few weeks or months, but is expected to last maybe a couple of years. The new style life embraces all diversity, as opposed to the slogan of the new normal, can be the factor that makes us stronger and more resilient than what is happening: let’s take, for example, the last bad release of the premier on Christmas that intimates us “No Kisses and Hugs”, without any solution of closeness to families. I wonder and ask myself, without getting too angry inside, if those who prepared that press conference were aware that touch is the first of the senses that the born child perceives when it is born, after hearing, and is the last to leave us when we die. It is not human – on the contrary, it is inhuman – such a media communication is against nature. In many ways we could have received more consolatory communication: this is what I mean when I say new life style, even in the communication I hope for. How could the same sentence have been communicated? I propose “let’s all imagine ourselves in a big hug”, “let’s give each other gifts that we have long embraced” “let’s take some cards and finally write personal messages in pen”. These are the first three ideas that come to mind, but there will be many, many more, let’s wait for yours.

Of course, times are hard, but let’s not indulge in this fragility and vulnerability, and let’s also learn to relativize it: today, 25 November, as I write these lines, is the day of Violence against Women, and World Health Organization data say that one in three women on the planet has suffered some form of violence, and 10% are under 16 years old. [3] Speaking of new life style, are the media telling us about it, or is this news still behind the omnipresent COVID-19 Normal and the faces and words of infectivologists? If they are communicating it, after a brief search for the headlines, they are doing so anecdotally (they refer to the last two feminicides) without giving the magnitude of the problem.

To give the magnitude means to put a news item on the stage: in fact, the numerical magnitude (with raw data, without grits by age group) is assigned to COVID, while instead violence on women is assigned the anecdote, deprived of the massive numerical, so that it has its own day of memory, but then disappears with respect to the dominant issue COVID -19. On the other hand Ubi maior, minor cessat: (where there is a serious issue, small things disappear). We are living the time of Ubi Covid, minor cessat. Are we sure that a third of the women on the planet who suffer violence are a minor issue when it is now clear that those few women who have knocked down the glass ceiling and become premiers in Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan and Norway, have done much better in leadership and communication to citizens?

And speaking of media communication, I really loved that German commercial, which interviewed an elderly gentleman, perhaps almost in 2070, who tells of when he was 21 years old in 2020, studying engineering, and then found himself in the middle of the pandemic: “And how did you survive?” “By doing nothing. By staying on the sofa”. Well, the message is to learn to stop, to stay, without complaining.

We have released the latest Rai commercial on how to go shopping sexy[4]- a new equation for women who do the shopping, home and also possible lover, and we ask ourselves why Italian women all over Europe have reached the sad record of being last as a job at work, and this happened during the 2020 pandemic (data on Sole 24 ore)[5].

I ask readers to take a minute to breathe and recognize their thoughts and emotions in front of this mass communication – I am thinking of TV, Social, and unfortunately also many newspapers. The good journalists – and there are many of them – are those who do not often have the front page, but are in the blanks to be discovered, like the WWF oases that must be protected.

If the new normal is this style of media that we are witnessing on a daily basis, I am not interested in it. I prefer a great dignified silence.






Maria Giulia Marini

Epidemiologist and counselor in transactional analysis, thirty years of professional life in health care. I have a classic humanistic background, including the knowledge of Ancient Greek and Latin, which opened me to study languages and arts, becoming an Art Coach. I followed afterward scientific academic studies, in clinical pharmacology with an academic specialization in Epidemiology (University of Milan and Pavia). Past international experiences at the Harvard Medical School and in a pharma company at Mainz in Germany. Currently Director of Innovation in the Health Care Area of Fondazione ISTUD a center for educational and social and health care research. I'm serving as president of EUNAMES- European Narrative Medicine Society, on the board of Italian Society of Narrative Medicine, a tenured professor of Narrative Medicine at La Sapienza, Roma, and teaching narrative medicine in other universities and institutions at a national and international level. In 2016 I was a referee for the World Health Organization- Europen for “Narrative Method of Research in Public Health.” Writer of the books; “Narrative medicine: Bridging the gap between Evidence-Based care and Medical Humanities,” and "Languages of care in Narrative Medicine" edited with Springer, and since 2021 main editor for Springer of the new series "New Paradigms in Health Care."

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