Awareness Social

The Bystander Effect: Past, Present, and the Digital Age

We face many situations in our daily life. The people around us always influence us. But when dealing with a certain situation, we become confused in decision-making. Why is this happening? And have you ever wondered how people behave when such confusion arises?

The Kitty Genovese Case

In March 1964, a homicide took place in New York’s Queensboro Kew Garden. The news flashed on the cover of the New York Times. At first glance, the murderer, the victim, or the method of murder was nothing new or sensational. But the news still caused a stir. Kitty Genovese, a bar manager, closed the bar at 3 a.m. and left for home. Winston Moseley, a business machine operator, hit her on the street and stabbed her. He had also murdered two women in the past. But the reason for Kitty’s murder was so loud that it lasted for an hour. Kitty was screaming at the time as well as she was trying to get help.

Surprisingly, 38 people living in nearby houses heard her screams and immediately opened their windows and started watching the scene, but no one rushed to her aid during the incident. She was covered in blood, yet nobody intervened or dialed the police. This news was sensational and important not only because of the murder or the brutality in it, but also because of the onlookers’ reactions and behavior! And that’s why the news was featured on the cover of the New York Times! (from Manat, book by Achut Godbole)

Power of the Group

In 1968, John Darley and Bibb Latane conducted research to determine the psychological causes of the 38 viewers’ inaction in Kew Garden. This is what they call the bystander effect. According to Darley and Latane, there were three things in such behavior or a bystander effect. One is the question of whether it is right for you to go and do something while everyone else is present, and so no one comes forward to help.

The second thing is that everyone else should be right in the sense, then that no one else is coming forward and everyone thinks we should do the same, and then everyone is left behind. The third thing is because that many people have seen it, it is everyone’s responsibility to do something, not just us. And No one does anything because of this ideology. Today we see this ideology as it continues in bystander effect.

Social Media’s Impact on Bystander Behavior

Mobile and internet interference in human life has increased a lot since modernization. The bystander of the past is completely different from the bystander of today. Our mobile, computer, and tablet are turning us into active bystanders, and bystanders’ influence is also increasing. In the age of social media, the digital bystander is forgetting responsibility and watching the victims without helping them and posting them on social media by recording the incident through mobile. The digital bystander is most commonly found among young people. Importantly, videos of such incidents are posted on social media without any permission and any thought of its effect on people and victims. This has led to an increase in the number of digital bystanders. Here we come to know that we have forgotten humanity. We have failed to use social media properly.

A large number of spectators does not mean that no one ever comes forward to help. If such help is a sign of bravery and courage and everyone understands that we must come forward to help, then people can come forward quickly even if the number of spectators is high. Because doing so brings honor and appreciation. It gets approval from others. In short, if social values are rooted in society rather than self-centered values, people will come forward to help each other. Due to changes in social interests in recent times, some psychologists have come to believe that people do not come forward to help because of the self-centered values rooted in society.

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