Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zombie City

Have you walked by someone laying dead in the street today? Probably not. But there were more than a handful that did. If you haven't heard this story in the news then please visit this link...


I must say I am truly disturbed by this sad story. Now, I'm sure so many who hear this story are also upset, think it's wrong, wish they could've helped, etc...

But why did it happen? Anderson Cooper 360 claims that people didn't want to help because they didn't want to be the only one to help. That they would possibly stand out if they helped. I believe that's very possible. However, in my opinion, it's much deeper than "bystander syndrome".

I lived in New York City. It's a beautiful place. It's rich in culture, art, music, great food, architecture, and many other fabulous tourist worthy attributes. However, the people that live there permanently aren't the best thing about The Big Apple. Now if you're reading this and you're from NYC, I apologize. And perhaps I'm talking about those that have transplanted to the city. Anyhow, what I noticed while living there is that people aren't personable there. You don't look at other people on the subway. You don't hold doors for people. You don't ever have a public conversation with anyone who is a stranger. Typically you're there to excel at some career. Because you're driven enough to move to NYC you might tend to be a bit selfish and possibly cold.

I am not a cold person, but NYC didn't make me more outgoing. If anything I left more introspective and quiet. I feel that because of this self absorbed, self driven, fiercely introspective attitude...people don't pay attention to one another. Yes, they donate to good causes. They get out there and run the NYC marathon so they can raise money for charity. But do they ever look into the eyes of someone they don't know and ask if they can help them with anything? Do they ever help the young man who has dropped his groceries in the grimy puddle on 14th Street? Do they call the police when a man lay dying?

Probably not.


Rebecca said...

Wow that is so sad! I think that living in NYC made me more introverted as well. I was much more willing to be outgoing and social before I moved there and I often wonder why that is? For the most part I found NYC people to be very nice and polite but I sometimes wonder if that was because I had 2 children in my arms for the most part. I can't remember a time when I was without them that someone in NYC opened the door for me or stood so I could sit down on the subway.

What is happening to our society?

Ajax's Whimsical Revolution said...

New York is no different than anywhere else as far as people go, generally speaking. There are just a lot more of them. Social Psychology and Sociology have studied these topics for years. This most recent case of people walking by a dying man is a new version of the Kitty Genovese story. Bystander effect is real, at least in the studies that have been performed. So is Diffusion of responsibility and a host of other research proven terms. People who live in heavily populated areas become overwhelmed and tend to participate less with the people around them. It isn't just New York, try Chicago or Los Angeles as well. This isn't meant to excuse, but to understand that it isn't some new phenomenon or loss of humanity in our society today.
That being said, I do think there is a loss of humanity in our society today, but this particular case isn't necessarily representative of it. In my opinion, my unprofessional opinion, the issue is "us" and "them." We all think we are an "us" and the people who walk by and don't help are a "them." We also like to think the man who does the stabbing is a "them." I suggest that we are all "us." The stabber, the man who was stabbed and even the people who walked by. Until we accept that we are all in this together, I don't see much changing in the realm of loss of humanity on the streets of the world. It is unfortunate, but it doesn't have to be this way. It all starts with "us."