#Discussion Post: The Bystander Effect by @SandersonSpeaks #TheBystanderEffect #Readalong #AltRead @wmcollinsbooks @HarperCollinsUK

The Bystander Effect by Catherine A. Sanderson - #Readalong #TheBystanderEffect #AltRead

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Welcome to my latest discussion post – I haven’t done one of these for a while, but the latest book I am reading is so worthy of one!
The Bystander Effect by Catherine A. Sanderson - #Readalong #TheBystanderEffect #AltRead
I’m currently reading The Bystander Effect by Catherine A. Sanderson, and it has made me think of a situation where I could have done something but didn’t, and even admitting this to you, dear readers, makes me feel guilty –  like this immediately will make you see me in a different light – like I am a callous and apathetic individual – who deserves to be lynched.  But I am not.  I am a classic case of a good person doing a (bad?) wrong thing, and believe me I have always remembered how I failed to act and felt guilty about it.

What did I do?

I saw a car down my road on fire.  It wasn’t a blazing fire,  (not that that should make any difference), but it was so hard to see it didn’t give off that dangerous, emergency vibe. I also didn’t know who the car belonged to. Did that matter? No, of course not, but had I known the owner, it may have added to my sense of urgency to call them and tell them, as well as call the fire brigade. But the main reason I never stepped up is simply that I assumed someone else had already phoned the fire brigade. There were plenty of other people down my street watching and filming / taking photos. One of them MUST have called for help. In addition, I remember feeling a strange added ‘fear factor’ where I thought that they’d be cross with me for wasting their time, and calling them when they’ve already been notified.

It wasn’t until later I heard when the call had actually been made, half an hour later, and who had stepped up.  The fire wasn’t so small by then. I also heard, and didn’t know at the time, that the fire brigade would rather have several calls about the same incident than none, which looking back as an older and wiser person, lol, is just common sense. It’s like I didn’t really have a strong sense of who I was at the time, I wasn’t very opinionated. I have since grown up and learnt from my life experiences and have my own set of values I now live by.

The Bystander Effect by Catherine A. Sanderson - Discussion Post

I do have a good story to tell though… about a time when I was at junior school and saw a boy from down my road being bullied at school, I remember very clearly stepping up that time, because I knew he didn’t have many friends and had heard he’d been bullied in the past, but had never witnessed it.  When I saw him being bullied I was alone. No one else was watching.

I shouted at the crowd surrounding him, surprising myself, and to my shock, (and utter delight), they actually listened and fled. I don’t know what I would have done if they’d turned on me too! lol But I took action immediately without thinking about the consequences, helped him, and actually felt proud of what I had done.

What was the difference? Why did I seem to have a better understanding of right and wrong at an even younger age?

After reading the first few chapters, which relate to the herd mentality, and things like ‘deindividuation’ (the loss of a sense of oneself as an individual) as one example where I don’t think I thought my opinion really counted, but in the  second situation where the bullies were involved I felt responsible for this lad. I was older, by a year, but just me. Not an extrovert or a tough person, but the fact that I felt there was no one around to help him, made me stand up to the bullies. There was nothing ambiguous about the situation. I had this sense of being older and being more authoritative. In this case I didn’t hesitate and knew what to do. I must have felt a greater responsibility to act.

What do you think?  Have you ever been in a similar situation? What did you do?

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Author: Sassy Brit, Author Assistant

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14 thoughts on “#Discussion Post: The Bystander Effect by @SandersonSpeaks #TheBystanderEffect #Readalong #AltRead @wmcollinsbooks @HarperCollinsUK

  1. Hi Brit,

    I think everyday we are faced with the decision of “should I get involved or not?” It funny how I can remember the times I did, but not the times I didn’t. Sometimes it’s not big things it’s little things. Your story of the boy being bullied reminded me of something that I became involved in.

    My husband and children lived in this neighborhood a few years back. I saw a boy about 9 years old being made fun of. He was kind of a nerdy kid (if you know what I mean.) But I also had the sense that he was lonely. My boys were older and working. I had two dogs and I worked. So one day I approached David and told him that I might have a job for him, but he needs to ask his mom if it is okay. The job was to come over after school and let my dogs outside.

    He assured me he talked to his mom and I followed up to be sure as well. It turns out his parents were getting a divorce, his older teenage sister had activities after school Mom worked sometimes into the evening. Dad didn’t live there.
    David watched my dogs, he would come over when I got home and talk to me while I was making dinner.. One evening our church was having a festival and I asked if he would like to go. He was excited to say the least and couldn’t thank me enough. The day came when his mom said they were moving. He was sad. So was I. I wondered if there would be any one for him when he came home from school or in the evening. Before he left he gave me these shinie rocks that I still have with a note that said “To remember me.”

    Years had passed and then one day my doorbell rings. There is this very tall and large young man. He said, hello I just got my drivers license and wanted to come see you. It was David.

    I think of David often and very glad that I had reached out to him. David is in his forties now, and married and still sends me a Christmas card.

    I told this story because it wasn’t much that I did… gave him a little job (I did pay him) not to toot my horn, but to show what a little thing can mean to someone.

    Over the years I have made a practice of hiring 10-12 yr olds to let my dog(s) out after school. I’m usually their first job and I tell them their responsibilities. But David is the one that has touched myheart the most.

    Great chat!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your story, Carol.

      Unfortunately, my bullied friend didn’t come out of it so happily in the end, and he took his own life after several more years of bullying at his next school. I think people handled bullying and the effects on mental health very differently back then.

      I’m so glad your story had a much happier, and uplifting ending. It’s very heart-warming to hear how your actions made David’s life better and how he appreciated it years later.

  2. Touching story Brit. Sometimes doing what we know is the right thing (like sticking up for someone who is being bullied) can be scary. That you chose to override that fear shows what a decent human being you are. And Carol is right when she says small things can make such a big impact in another person’s life.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Suzanne! I think that this book (as I am only up to page 72 😉 ) will cover how we can all stand up to bullies in more detail at school, at college and even at work. I agree any small effort can make a such a difference to someone’s life we’ve just got to get past that initial fear/hesitation of standing up to someone, or for something even when it makes us stand out from a crowd. The author, Sanderson, calls this becoming “Moral Rebels!” and it’s a subject close to my heart!

      Thanks for commenting, Suzanne, much appreciated.

  3. Strangely, I think as children we’re less afraid of taking action, not more afraid. Your actions in that light when you broke up the bullying is understandable. There’s some line we cross eventually where we care what others’ think more than what we think of ourselves. I mean, who cares if the fire brigade gets 100 calls about the car? Were they going to track you down and chastise you? No. But it still makes a difference. That’s adulthood, I think. Not wanting to get involved is also an adult trait. Sad, but there it is. You have nothing to feel badly about! Well, except maybe not trusting your own instincts, which were to help.

  4. Thank you, Dee! Yes, I think growing up does make us think about things too much, causing more inactivity. You are right about the ‘not getting involved’ attitude. There are plenty of stories in this book (some are quite horrific) of how people did not want to get involved for various reasons, which makes my car story quite tame, considering no one was hurt etc.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment 🙂

  5. I teach this in my Sociology courses. (Look up the Kitty Genovese case if you’ve never heard of it. You will be stunned).
    Another reason people don’t help, is because they’re afraid for their own safety. Predators have been known to set up traps, and women in particular have to be cautious. In some neighborhoods, people don’t call the police, because they’re afraid of gang retaliation. It’s that kind of world now, which is really sad.

    1. Thank you for your input, Gibby!

      Yes, I can totally understand that – there are several legitimate reasons to be scared for your own safety – I looked it up and read about poor Kitty and the “Genovese syndrome”. It’s a fascinating subject, and very fitting with regard to this book. Sadly this kind of group psychology is an unfortunate consequence of modern urban life. I wish I had studied this when I was at school.

    1. Thank you, Alice! Yes, this book has really made me think!! 😀 Fascinating subject.

  6. I found this a really interesting post, Brit. It got me thinking about a hero project by Dr. Philip Zimbardo. I haven’t read The Bystander Effect yet, but I will add it in my to-read list.

    1. Thanks, Estelle!

      Oh, I will have to look up Dr. Philip Zimbardo next! Glad I’ve added to your TBR list 😀

  7. In hind sight, I know I should have stepped up with a few instances. But, when younger, I was bullied and had little self esteem. Older and wiser, I don’t hesitate to step up when it needs to be done, and I don’t worry whether I’m liked for it or not. this is a great discussion!

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