Social Media: Is The Urge To Go Viral Stronger Than The Urge To Help?

Social Media: Is The Urge To Go Viral Stronger Than The Urge To Help?

If someone needed help, would you stop to offer aid or record for the masses?

The cell phone — it’s a technological advancement that continues to grow to this day. Almost every year, new upgrades are being added to further such advancements, such as new applications, extended battery life, and higher quality video resolution.

But what exactly are these video advancements being used for? Are they really doing us any better?

Let’s talk about the videos posted online. You may not have watched some of them, but you’ve probably at least heard about them. Let’s take more relevant and specific examples then, such as the video depicting a South Carolina police officer violently arresting a student in a classroom, or the pornographic audio being leaked onto Target PA systems during regular shopping hours.

All of these events were recorded, but each had one distinct similarity: no one was actively trying to help or find out what was going on.

So what is it, we wonder, that makes the instinct to pull out your cell phone to start recording stronger than the instinct to help or to simply figure out what is going on?

Katie Stephenson, a Texas State University graduate student, shared her concerns over the matter.

“The saying ‘pics or it didn't happen’ is a sad truth in today's society,” Stephenson said. “It's one thing for people to be able to explain a situation they saw, but an entirely different one when they can have it documented, allowing for more people to see and be able to give their reactions on the site.”

Another graduate student, David Prosser, felt that this instinct is definitely something to be concerned about in today’s society, as “it takes less effort to help than to try and become famous.”

“I think (the instinct to record over taking action) is tragic and harmful,” Prosser said. “There will be less ‘good samaritanism’ and more wannabe Michael Moore's out there. People will be injured and those that could have survived won’t because people want to get it on a Vine or a Snap.”

With regards to injury and those that could have survived, there was also a case in June 2015 where an Ohio man, following a fatal car crash, chose to record the incident as a lesson to his Facebook peers rather than help the two teenagers inside the vehicle. One of those teenagers later died of his injuries.

Bob Fischer, an assistant philosophy professor at Texas State University, weighed in on this incident in particular, as well as “the blending of real and virtual worlds.”

“What’s bizarre about (the Ohio car crash) is this remarkable level of attachment that the individual seems to have,” Fischer said. “So I can see you bleeding on the side of the road, and yet rather than see you as a potential object of concern, I see you as an object lesson. So how it is that that person isn’t real enough to arouse sympathy is pretty remarkable.”

In the 1960s, the phenomenon known as ‘The Bystander Effect’ came to the surface, which, according to Psychology Today, is defined as when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation.

With the rise of social media, critics have come to include the recording and posting of incidents such as the ones listed above as a part of the phenomenon.

Accounting graduate Beth Clem believes that this inclusion is well warranted.

“When some event happens, inevitably film will surface from the scene,” Clem said. “The only way this is possible is if people are whipping out their cell phones in distressing situations.”

So what is it that we can say about these individuals who chose to record these kinds of events? Is it a problem with the blending of reality and the virtual world? What is it about the potential of getting likes or views that override the instinct to be a Good Samaritan?

Bob Fischer said that the idea was something he would still have to think about.

“I mean, there’s something weird going on there about the blending of real and virtual worlds,” Fischer said. “And that says a lot about the way that the social media has altered the way we engage with individuals and understand who’s present and who’s salient in situations.”

Cover Image Credit: Wix

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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