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

Popular Right Now

This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Double Standards Are Plaguing Our Society

What and how are double standards hurting our society?

Why is that when a female has many sexual partners she is considered a slut, but when a male does it he is celebrated as a king? Why is it when a male wears makeup or paints his nails his shunned by the world, but when a girl does it she looks bomb? How can the pope support ending the gender gap, but refuse to allow women to hold spiritual leadership roles? It’s because we live in a world filled with double standards.

What is a double standard? Merriam-Webster states it’s “a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.” We see in our society that there are many double standards between races, religions, sexualities, and genders.

Many double standards are hurting our country and even our world. Many people are blind to the double standards that plague our community especially if isn’t affecting them, while some just accept these as okay in our society, but they aren't okay. Here a few double standards that are seen in today's society.


  • Women are paid less than men for doing the same exact job.
  • If a man cries he is considered weak, while it’s alright for a woman to do so.
  • When a male is sexually harassed by a woman he is lucky, while it happens to women it’s considered rape (I’m not denouncing rape that happens to women)
  • If a woman asserts any kind of dominance she’s a bitch, but if a guy does it he’s a leader.


  • If someone of Muslim faith kills someone the headlines are “Muslim Terrorist Strikes Again!”, but they never announce if the killer was a Christian. They say he was a “lone wolf”
  • If a Christian teacher tried to make the class pray it would be okay, and millions would support them, but if a Muslim teacher tried that the world would go crazy.
  • the KKK (who are “Christians”) is okay, they can recruit through their website which isn’t blocked in any way and even endorsed our current president


  • If a black person does anything they seem suspicious, but when white people do it, it’s okay.
  • When NFL teams win big games their fans destroy cities, but if any peaceful protest happens it’s a riot and police decide to throw tear gas.
  • If a white person uses weed their considered a stoner, but if a black person does it they’re a criminal.


  • if a straight couple does anything it’s normal. If a gay couple does it, it’s an abomination.
  • Straight couples can mistreat their own kids and it be okay, but if a gay couple wants to adopt a kid all hell breaks loose.


  • If some bigger over eats their considered fat, and unhealthy, but if a thinner person over eats no one says a word.

Of course, there are so many other double standards that affect other groups of people, but just having these few is too many. We have to do something about this! If we allow one group of people to do something we must allow all other groups to do so as well. This must change to allow everyone to feel equal if we claim to be an equal opportunity country.

It isn't impossible to change these double standards as we have seen double standards in the past be changed. such as a male could be a doctor, but a women couldn't. Or even a white person holding a higher position in work and black person couldn't. Therefore, we see a change can happen, but only if we choose to make it happen.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley8053

Related Content

Facebook Comments