[ARCHIVE]: Stand By, Don’t Help

I am offloading my Article of The Week journal entries from my Freshman English blog.

In an article, written by Angela Leshbrook, she addresses the Bystander Effect. At the start of her article, she details an unfortunate event that she saw on Twitter, in which a person records a man being overtaken by floods versus helping him up. This phenomenon is referred to as the Bystander Effect.  In the “social media age”, people prefer to record events to receive “likes” and social media “popularity”, versus helping out.

I often find myself in situations where I grab my phone versus intervening or verbally communicating with people. I feel I do this because, in today’s day and age, it’s easier to reach for my pocket to flip my phone out and text someone because it’s simple. I type a message, click send, and the person I’m texting receives it. There is no meeting up in person or actual speaking required, it’s just a couple simple clicks to communicate with someone.

Cameras definitely have an effect on peoples’ behavior. They influence actions and reactions from people. A lot of people, including some I know personally, put on a different “persona” when they use social media, to make others believe their lives are all “sunshine and rainbows”, when in fact, it’s not. They’re not perfect, but they frame it as if they are, because that’s what they want others to see. They don’t want others to see the real side of themselves, which includes the ugliness, hurt, and pain that goes on in their everyday lives.

The Bystander Effect is very real, and I have experience with it personally. I’ve seen video and Snapchats of people who video harmful situations, instead of helping the person who was in trouble, out of trouble. An example I have seen is bullying. Bullying is “funny” for some people, and most are stricken with hesitation when it comes to helping the person, and they just record and spread the video. Another example is that kids raised in this “social media age” cannot escape humiliation or mistakes, because the video has already circulated via social media. Snapchat and Instagram are notorious platforms for this behavior. Rarely, anyone goes to help, or check on the person, they just laugh along to avoid being made fun of as well.

Having camera access at any time is a problem, especially when it comes to something like the Bystander Effect. I always have a camera in my left pocket, with my phone. Any time something possibly “viral”, like the example at the start of the article, occurs, people will just grab their phones and share it, just like the person did at the start of the article. It just shows how connected this generation is to their phones. The Bystander Effect wouldn’t be as socially prominent if there wasn’t a camera in nearly everyone’s pockets.

I feel the Bystander Effect is very real. As I’ve stated, I’ve seen it happen more times than I can remember. It’s really sad, because people will just sit around and watch horrible things happen, and not do anything, either for the sake of their reputation, just plain unwillingness, or they truly aren’t able to. There’s not enough research that has gone into studying the bystander effect and the presence of phones, but it certainly isn’t a helpful thing to remove the social prominence that this issue has today.