In his famous book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell adroitly discusses one of the common yet sorry state of humans. It is called the bystander effect. In simple terms, it is a state in which we naturally assume that since there is another person at the place of incident, it is not necessary for us to get involved in it but sadly, the other person is pondering over the same idea and the effect becomes an epidemic. That is when things become serious and even turn out to be fatal in some cases.
As for example, imagine a scenario where you notice a group of thugs ruthlessly beating a lad in the villa. According to the bystander effect, the first thought that comes across your mind is your reluctant attitude to actively involve in freeing the lad from the thugs thanks to the conviction you have set within yourself. Your mind immediately refrains you from involving in the act as it tries to protect you from danger by triggering your senses to assume that the nearby neighbors must also have heard the lad’s scream and hence help must have already arrived. But alas, little does your brain know that it has been deceived by its analysis and will later regret to not have saved the lad’s life.
|A notorious example (image used from filipspagnoli.wordpress.com)|
Upon deep inspection, it was very inhumane for us to rely on our senses. How can we not have rushed into the situation without going through any thoughts and saved the lad from the beating by gathering some help? We could have done so! We had the potential to do so, didn’t we? But why didn’t we? I hate to admit but such cases were a part of some societies and god knows if it still does. Then the big question remains: How do we minimize the trance that the bystander effect sets upon us?
This might not be a genuine solution but it is a possibility to take into consideration if we assume the scenario to be taking place among a very small group of people or if there was a third person who just happened to be near the incident. But can only one person save the lad from those thugs? You may be surprised to know this but it at least increases the chances of survival as compared to the previous scenario. When researchers went through all such incidents taking every minute details into account, they noticed a startling fact. Among such incidents, the victim was able to save himself with a few extra help only when there were a few people around to know about it and disappointingly, not the other way around. With a small group, there are less chances of pointing fingers at each other and immediate action is imminent. If so, how is it possible to let such a scenario take shape since it is always not a case to witness? How can we restrict ourselves to allow us getting involved at such scenario and decrease the frequency of audiences for the sake of saving a stranger? It is not possible. Then can we just let the bystander effect to take a grip into the situation at the expense of a stranger’s valuable life? I presume that answers to these questions are unsolvable.
Our only chance of overcoming the situation will be to act immediately. Once we start to show those thugs what we are capable of, only then we should be expecting some help from the passive audience. But it comes at a price. What if by allowing ourselves to save the innocent lad, we end up being a victim and the passive audience still be a part of the deceiving trance? What will we do then?
I guess it too does not yield an answer. It seems that getting prepared for such cruel scenarios is the only option at our disposal.