Lionel – Screens Are Enhancing The Bystander Effect

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NEW YORK, NY (WPIX) - Last week a Philadelphia transit cop struggled with a drunk man for seven minutes and no one rendered aid or assistance, called 911, nothing. Correction, one citizen did pull out a cellphone and videotaped the event.

So why, why do you think this happened? Why the disconnect? Why this latter day version of the notorious and perhaps apocryphal case of Kitty Genovese who in 1964 was stabbed to death in Kew Gardens and despite her screams, no one helped or called the police. It gave rise to the phenomenon known as the bystander effect or diffusion of responsibility.

I have a new theory that explains today`s refusal to become involved and that`s the screen illusion. Many people today live in the world of iPhones, smart phones, iPads, computer displays, TV, movies and film. They know not reality. The screen is their reality. And as they don`t attempt to interrupt or intervene in the activities occurring on or behind a screen, they don`t seek to interrupt or intervene in the activities occurring in the real world which have become indistinguishable from that of the screen. It`s a cognitive and perceptual disconnect. Reality is not corporeal and palpable and touchable.

Reality is just what you see. Nothing personal. And that`s the point. There`s nothing personal. Comment.