hand holding a plasma ball
PHOTO: Ramón Salinero

In Ireland, we have painfully come to realize that all our gods were really men disguised in frocks or surgeons’ coats. Fallible men with feet of clay and egos often the size of Everest.

This is the age of brutal transparency. Sure, there’s a lot of fake news about, but there is also a tsunami of real news, real facts, real information. Ordinary people have never had as much access to information that was historically the preciously guarded secrets of the gods that ruled over us.

Ordinary people have never been better educated and more able to understand all this information. Ordinary people are still open to spin and manipulation, particularly when it comes to pushing those old tribal triggers. However, deep down, a great many ordinary people know that the system is broken. That the system was always primarily designed to protect the elite, the gods of society.

The latest scandal to rock the gods in Ireland has to do with cervical smear testing. In a number of cases, women were not informed of critical information that they absolutely should have been given. Many women would be alive today had they been given the right information on time.

There are many reasons for this appalling scenario. One of them, the victims point out is the “God complex.” I am personally well aware of this. My experience of eight out of 10 medical people — particularly senior consultants — is one of cold, imperious creatures. I remember once my doctor sending me for a test with one consultant and saying, “He’s very good but he’s a bit like a morgue director.” Actually, what he said did a great disservice to morgue directors. The man in the sterile coat didn’t shake my hand, hardly ever looked me in the eyes.

Too much blind trust. A servile society breeds servants and masters. The servants are rebelling. All over the world there is a collapse in institutional trust because most institutions have abused the trust given to them. The Irish Cervical Check scandal only came to light because of brave, dogged, determined, articulate and well-informed women like Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh. Here’s what Lorraine Walsh said about her consultants. “The attitude I was given was; ‘I didn’t feel you needed to know, and in hindsight I should have told you, I don’t know what you’re making a big deal about, this is no big deal.’”

If you ever wonder why most senior managers are clueless about digital, or know hardly anything about their customers, or could care less that the intranet sucks, now you know why. They were trained that way. In the macho misogynist world, it is not cool to care, not cool to be humble. If you are clueless about digital you must lie and pretend and say things like “we need more interactivity; let’s do a redesign; I want to be first in the carousel; what about the branding?" We breed a culture of men who feel they must know even when they don’t, who feel they should keep the key information and feed it out in dribs and drabs when they see fit, who bristle at being challenged and immediately look to take down the challenger.

That world is smashing straight into a new world where increasing complexity and rapid change means that nobody can possibly have all the answers, where multidisciplinary teams deliver better results, and there the customer / patient / student has lots of hard questions to ask and will not be fobbed off by some deluded soul with a god complex.