The Importance of Overcoming the Bystander Effect
Start writing a post
Student Life

Don't Be A Bystander

The Bystander Effect has become a plague.

96
Don't Be A Bystander

We've all felt it. Something breaks, and we expect someone else to alert a person in charge. Someone hurts themselves, and we wait for another person to call 911. A teacher asks a question in class, and we wait for someone else to answer.

The Bystander Effect is a unique phenomenon that is present in groups of larger people but often happens as a passive effect. The agent (the bystander) oftentimes wants to pass the responsibility onto other people. This applies to simple things like expecting their roommate to wash the dishes, or expecting other people to call the police in an emergency situation.

Other people worry about their social perception if they were to pursue the actions necessary. For example, if a teacher asks a question, the agent doesn't want to seem like a "teacher's pet" or "overzealous" by answering the question or to look dumb if their answer is wrong.

In summation, the Bystander Effect is a suppression of action due to situational or social influences. This passivity works, sometimes. Well, rarely. Almost never, actually.

The consequences of not taking actions greatly outweigh the consequences of acting. To continue the above examples, what happens when no one answers the teacher's question? You sit in awkward silence for what feels like an eternity. In an emergency situation? Someone's life could be in danger.

Actively fighting against the bystander effect can have a huge impact on yourself and the world around you. People say that having a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) is important for mental wellness. By being more active and aware of the Bystander Effect, you can develop a PMA.

Let's say your teacher asks a question, and you answer immediately. The teacher appreciates that you are engaged and becomes more involved in their lesson. It also passively encourages your other classmates to be more active in class.

Because of your actions, you had a much more enjoyable class. What if you did that for every class? And at work? And while walking down the street? You're making others' and your day much better simply because you aren't living passively. And it started by answering some mundane questions about F. Scott Fitzgerald at 9:30 am.

The Bystander Effect also extends farther into larger spheres. For example, activism in politics. People tend to sit back, waiting for someone else to make the move to counter certain legislation or not to attend various movements or rallies because other people will. This may be the result of general apathy, but the concept of the Bystander Effect still applies.

Well, how do we push against the Bystander Effect?

Simply put, it takes an active person to break the mold. Not a weightlifter or a marathon runner, but a person who puts themselves out there. Actions produce results (albeit negative ones on occasion). Just remember: if you don't do it, no one else will.

Start small by complimenting a person's shirt, commenting to a stranger about an event, or even going out of your way to do a favor. Those actions are so rare in recent times that their occurrence starts a positive movement through people. People may look at you like the crazy person on the bus, but they cannot fault you for trying to be nice.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

94237
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments