In the summer, I witnessed a fight break out on a bus between two school boys, who couldn’t have been more than 15 years old. I have no idea how the fight broke out or what they were even brawling over, but one had the other in a headlock, and proceeded to punch him in the face until he was covered in blood. It was grim. I arrived at work late and explained what had happened on my journey. “Did you get it on video?” a colleague asked, to which I replied a firm “No!”. But based on what I had seen doing the rounds on Facebook just that week, I wasn’t surprised by his question at all.

Film it or it didn’t happen!

Shareable, visual evidence is what we seem to crave more than ever, but is our appetite for it clouding our ability to judge right from wrong?
Violent videos generate a lot of conversation both on and offline, which can be an incentive to find and share content that goes that little bit further. It’s like the internet has inadvertently created some sort of sick competition, and the ability to shock has become the prize. I’d be lying if I said the odd click bait title hadn’t lured me in from time to time, and I have a feeling that will continue to be the case. It’s that kind of curiosity that fuels the demand for these video, and our ‘film it or it didn’t happen’ mentality is where the supply comes from.

Well that escalated quickly!

Escalating anger
Minor disagreements are erupting into violence more frequently

It has become common to witness people going from 0-100 in a few short minutes, lashing out with proportions that don’t seem to match the situation. I’m not here to tell people what they should get upset about, but when someone trips you up by accident, punching them in the throat is a slight overreaction don’t you think? It’s like we’ve become so used to seeing outbursts of rage, that some are failing to judge what is an appropriate way to respond to minor disagreements. In just the past few weeks, I’ve heard news of a stabbing, which was the result of an argument about a bus window, and seen footage of a man hitting an older woman in the mouth because a bag was obstructing a bus gangway. It’s frightening to think that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on out there.

Shoot now, help later (or maybe not!)

It’s sad that we’ve become a society whose first reaction to any incident is to film it. It’s even more worrying when it is clearly apparent that someone caught up in a situation could do with a helping hand. Our fixation with capturing content has led to us prioritising it above compassion for those in need. Sure, someone might be getting their head kicked it, but you’ve really gotta get those angles right!

And it’s not just fights. Having recently seen video footage of a car that had flipped upside down on a local road, it dawned on me that it’s unclear where the line is, if there is one at all.

But there is an upside…

Video evidence means the law can catch up with the guilty parties with ease

Our ‘point and shoot’ obsession does have a benefit. When things take a critical turn, video evidence is what can assist when police need to track people down. It’s no longer as easy to dip into the shadows and avoid the long arm of the law if you’ve been involved in an incident in public. But we know that is rarely what drives people to document these things, if ever.

Is your first instinct to capture footage when you witness an argument or a fight? Or would you step in or at least voice a concern?

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