After eating lunch one day I witnessed a fight break out before my eyes. I was out with two co-workers and we walked past two women arguing in the parking lot. "You don't know my life! I'll beat your ass right now!" We kept walking but stopped and turned around maybe 100 feet away. The situation escalated and two women in their twenties started to full on fighting. Well I wouldn't really call it a fight, the larger of the two women struck the smaller one to the ground and continued to hit her. I also notice two other people very close to the fight and another group of people closer than us standing around and watching.
Part of my gut said, "Do something." but instead I stood there petrified due to what I now know is called "the bystander effect." The bystander effect is a phenomenon where the diffusion of responsibility is inversely proportional to the amount of people in the area. That is, the more people witnessing something - the less someone feels responsible to "do the right thing."
Instead of doing anything at all we end up turning around and heading back to the office after some comments about World Star and "wow did that really happen." Sadly that's the state of society at this current moment. People would sooner pull out their phones and record the fight then actually help a person in need.
On the car ride back and at work I started processing what just happened. I put myself in the shoes of the woman laying on the ground getting beaten with 10 people around watching and not doing anything. She probably lost her faith in humanity.
I don't know the exact situation and everything happened so fast. So many variables. Another thing is that I don't know if either of them had "backup" or if either of them had a weapon or anything. But I do know that on that day I dismissed it as "not my issue" and "not my problem."
I'm not advocating putting yourself in danger or doing anything at all if this situation happens to you. I just know now that I'll be doing SOMETHING next time. Calling the cops, yelling "Stop," or just something more than nothing. If not for helping someone else out - for my own conscious and preventing this guilt that I feel right now.