Doing The Human Thing
By: Paul D’Angelo
In the article The Step Not Taken, Paul D’Angelo recounts an experience where he exhibited the Bystander Effect when faced with a young man crying in his presence in an elevator. He is ashamed by his decision to leave the man alone and is doubtful when his friends and acquaintances tell him he did the right thing. Did he do the right thing? What is the Bystander Effect? In this article, I will explore this phenomenon and the nature of the situation that D’Angelo found himself in, and try to determine whether he should have tried to involve himself with the crying man. First, what is it that paralysed D’Angelo when the young man began to cry in front of him? The Bystander Effect is the tendency for people to not react to someone’s calls for help if there are other people around. The more people present, the less a person is likely to take action. They feel as though someone else will intervene (The Bystander Effect). But there was no one else in the elevator other than Author and the young man, so what could have caused his hesitation? The other aspect of the Bystander Effect is that it is related to people’s sense of what is normal in a social situation. If others do not act, we feel as though it would be inappropriate if we did (The Bystander Effect). In D’Angelo’s case, I believe that what caused his reaction is that the situation was abnormal and so he could not figure out what the socially appropriate way to react was or how the other person might respond. The article details how well the young man was dressed and what a strong impression he gave before he broke down. It explains why it came off as such a shock to the author. Moreover, society teaches us that it is inappropriate to interfere in someone else’s personal life, no matter what the circumstances are, as proved by D’Angelo’s acquaintances telling him he did the right thing by not getting involved. Second, D’Angelo asks himself what could have...
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