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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.
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.