Check my social media profiles and you’ll know I’m the last person to rant against Selfie Syndrome and OPD (Obsessive Posting Disorder), but there are times when you need to put the phone away.
Recently I saw a video circulating in social media circles that left me very disturbed, and not just because of the obvious racist connotations. It featured a couple of South Asian men, who had clearly had a bit of a fender bender on the road.
The ensuing argument had already advanced to hurling insults and was getting very close to fisticuffs. The incident itself appears to have happened in a GCC country, possibly Saudi. The whole video is being treated online as a bit of a comedy with lots ‘hahaha’ and ‘LOL’ comments.
But I don’t find it funny at all. It is two people, just like you and me, having a particularly bad day. It’s obviously hot, they’ve had an accident, tempers are flaring and violence could ensue. In the GCC that could mean jail time or even worst – deportation.
Okay, bad things happen, things get out of control, we get angry, we’re all human. My issue is not that, it’s with the person making the film. He’s clearly on site at the time, they even appeal to him at one point, and instead he just does a selfie with the two continuing to argue behind him and appears to mock them.
The real moron in all of this then, is him. If he’s that close to the guys, and taking that much interests, then surely good, responsible and sensible thinking dictates that if he should intervene in some manner, it should be to try and mollify the guys and calm things down.
In the time before smart phones and pocket cameras and social media, people might have been more eager to cut in and pull these two apart, give them some water, diffuse the tension and, most crucially, stop anything getting out of hand until the police arrive.
Instead it’s all about getting some pictures or video because the priority is to post something unique, different and compelling online as it’s sure to go viral, right? And indeed it does. But at what cost to society?
Similarly there was another post recently heralding a Dubai Policeman who singlehandedly pushed a large broken down van out of the way to enable traffic to continue on its way. What occurred to me when I saw the picture, was not just the obvious strength and dedication to duty the officer was admirably displaying, but the complete lack of help he was getting.
He was clearly in a crowded placed, but no-one bothered to help, not even the other drivers from the cars stuck in the traffic? And those that were standing around chose to take pictures instead? Something is desperately wrong here!
How can we all have become so crass – and again I say this is a persistent poster on social media myself. But I do like to believe that, if I could help in a situation, I would do that first and take pictures later (despite being a journalist).
There was an incident in the States a year ago, if I remember correctly, where people burned to death in a car involved in a road traffic accident. There’s footage of a lone off-duty cop desperately trying, and failing to help them. In the end all he can really do is move back all the people who are getting too close to the burning wreck whilst taking videos. WTF?!
We’re in Ramadan right now, and this Holy Month is all about empathy and understanding. Trying to relate to the plight of the poor by experiencing hunger and thirst, giving charity to those in need and generally being kind, caring and thoughtful towards others – helping wherever we can.
This behavioural attitude is not just limited to Ramadan of course, but this special month serves as a reminder and recharger of our souls and spirit. I hope we can all just take a moment to reflect on this and make a quiet pledge to help first and Facebook later whenever we can.
There is a Hadith (saying or action of the Prophet [Peace be upon him]):
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘A prostitute saw a dog lolling around a well on a hot day and hanging his tongue from thirst. She drew some water for it in her shoe, so Allah forgave her.’
Fortunately I don’t think it’s too late, and all hope is not yet lost in humanity. There was another video recently from London, where a crowd of people suddenly came together and managed to lift and move an entire double decker bus in order to free another accident victim – a cyclist who had become trapped under it.
Is it amazing what we all can do when we all come together for a good cause?