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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Joe Arpaio Announces Senate Run

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Two months prior to the pardon, Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt for refusing a court order to stop racially profiling when looking for undocumented individuals to detain. Disregarding the charges, Trump pardoned him, demonstrating a rather prominent disregard for the justice system.

Arpaio, who had previously endorsed then-candidate Trump, was also a vocal supporter of the birthed movement, which suggested that former President Barrack Obama was not born in the United States. His history of racial discrimination and unfounded aggression towards people of color will likely follow him into the Senate if he gets elected.

Republican political commentator Ana Navarro voiced her concern and outrage over Arpaio’s Senate bid on Twitter, saying,“If you are a Latino, an African-American, or just a normal, decent, sane human being who rejects racial profiling and bigotry and are of voting age in Arizona, register to vote. Do it today. Ahora!”

Anna is far from alone in her sentiments, but she does stand out from her Republican colleagues. Of course, residents of Arizona will have the most impact in whether or not Arpaio is elected. Hopefully, they will reject the fear-mongering and bigotry that both Trump and Arpaio constantly fuel.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Don't Take Winter Break For Granted

Enjoy each other's company while you're in the same area code.

Something I've heard since the start of my first semester at college was that I would be dying to go back to school by the end of winter break.

This prediction mostly came from professors, family members, and older college students. While I am excited to see my friends from school again, I still don't quite understand what everyone was talking about. I've talked to people who say the last two weeks of break are dreadful and they would do anything to go back earlier. I can't say that I feel the same.

I love my friends at school, I'm excited for my classes next semester, I get along great with my roommates, and the food is pretty good, but that doesn't mean I'm going to brush off the amazing month I get to spend with my friends and family at home.

The most difficult part of going to school in the fall was saying goodbye to my friends at home. I think this was because I knew not much would change between my family and I, and I knew I would love school, but you can never predict how your relationships with friends will change when you go away.

This uncertainty terrified me. When you're in high school, you take your friends for granted. You don't have to wonder when you'll see each other again, and you always know how they're doing. Once you're in college that all changes. Going into the spring semester, I realized that I wont see some of my friends for another five or six months.

This realization showed me how important winter break is, and how grateful I am that I got to spend a month with my home-friends.

I don't know what changes after the first winter break that makes people so eager to go back to school. This was only my first break, so it's safe to say there are plenty of people who know better than I do, but I can't imagine getting to a point where I am ready to leave my friends again after a week or two.

I love that instead of having to plan ahead just to make a phone call I can just text them and within twenty minutes we're doing something together. Even if we're just relaxing in someone's living room, every bit of time we get together is special because we realize that soon we have to head our separate ways again.

So before you run back to campus, turn around and look at what you're running away from. Within the next few years life is going to change dramatically. People are going to get internships that might be in a different city, or someone's parents might decide to pick up and move to a state fourteen hours away. So spend time with your friends, go to your favorite restaurants, watch your favorite movies, and just enjoy each other's company while you're still in the same area code.

Cover Image Credit: Liz Holmes

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