Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

I forgot my cellphone at home today, and prayed that my car would make it to work and back. Years ago, I would have been fine. I knew phone numbers by heart, and I could either walk to a pay phone or someone would stop and help. These days, I would watch helplessly as cars zoomed by, probably splashing mud in my face for dramatic effect.

The sense of community has almost completely broken down. The average American assumes that someone in need already has help arriving from elsewhere, and does not need to intervene. This is a result of technology, government intervention, and frankly, pure laziness. There is a name for this "someone else probably called the cops already" kind of mob mentality, but I can't remember it.

I was pumping gas the other day, and realized that someone in a panda costume could mug me with a sword at that moment, in broad daylight with people all around, and nobody would make eye contact. This may or may not be true, but either way I would not be shocked, and it would be a great story.


Anonymous said...

I think it's called the "Bystander Effect" in psychology.

Anyway, you're *especially* screwed if you live alone in a city (not uncommon in this mobile day and age), with no close friends. Which happens to be the case with me.

Not This God said...

Thanks, that's what I was looking for. I wish I had remembered that, it would have made my point stronger. Cell phones have made the bystander effect more prevalent in every situation.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Apart from cell phones, the following factors also contribute:

o Pathological fear of strangers (caused by a risk-aversive, paranoid society, and fueled by media serial-killer scares).
o Fear of litigation.
o Breakdown of the local community.
o Large, impersonal cities.

I lived in Israel for a while a few years ago, and man, was it an eye-opener how there are still countries where people just help others in need, without hesitation.