I’m reading a book called “Drunk Tank Pink”. It talks about the many things that influence human behavior, many of which we are unaware of.
One of the chapters talked about a number of studies that tried to determine what makes people act when something bad is going on. Some of the events were real and some were staged. The book cited the story when a woman was stabbed to death in 1964 in full view of many onlookers, as well as another case were a homeless man was attacked and died, also in view of a number of onlookers. Then there was a study where a student thought that he was talking to another student (in another room, unseen) who acted as if he was having a seizure. In another study, a student was waiting in a room with other students (who were in on the study) and smoke started to appear under the door.
What caused people to act or not? The determining factor was the number of other people. The more people, the more everyone thought that someone else would take care of it. The more people, the less happened.
People don’t want to cause a fuss. They don’t want to be out of place. They look to others to act.
Problem is, what if we all do that, and we all burn to death in that room? People die when nobody acts, or acts too slowly.
I had a thought when I was reading this – instead of doing a study to find out what makes people act or not, why not have a class that teaches people how to act in such a circumstance? Who to call, what to do? That kind of stuff. Teach everybody how to be a first responder. Teach everybody to be able to handle it on their own, rather than expecting someone else to take care of it.
Because if you wait for someone else to take care of it, someone is going to get hurt.
I was in a tiny restaurant that had big glass windows. A big storm came up. My husband and I were sitting by one of the windows. I asked to move, and we took everything over to a corner, as far away as we could get from the windows. The bathrooms were nearby as an escape route.
I had been in a similar situation once when I was a child. My family had gone out to eat and an equally bad storm came up. The storm broke the window at the table we were sitting at, and my brother’s head got sliced open by the glass. The rest of the evening was a blur as my parents drove us to the doctor’s office to get stitched up. I’m not sure why we didn’t go to the emergency room – but I suspect it was because we didn’t have health insurance.
But this time, at this restaurant, it caused a little bit of a fuss to move everything, and the other patrons decided to speak up. They started making fun of me.
I’m still angry thinking about this.
I’m moving to safety. I wasn’t telling them to move, nor was I preventing them from moving. There was no reason to mock me.
I’m glad I stood my ground and moved. Funny to say it that way, but that is how it is. I would have taken care of them if they had gotten hurt, but the only way to be able to take care of others is to be safe yourself. I saw no reason to take a chance with that storm and that window. It was a bad combination. Ideally, I wouldn’t have even gone out that night if I’d realized how intense that storm was going to get.
So maybe that is also part of why people don’t get involved. Not only do they not know what to do, not only do they think someone else will do something, but they have previously been chastised for doing or saying something.
Eh. I’m going to speak up. And I’m going to move. And if it means I’m going to look stupid doing it, so be it. Better stupid than dead.