Smart Phone, Stupid Owner – Toby Cowern (Conflict Manager Magazine – APRIL, 2015)

I suffer, as many do, of falling into the trap of ’wandering’ around the internet, loosing valuable time in the process, looking at the latest trends, themes and current topics of discussion in various forums and social media sites. Given the marketing tools used and current social trends, it’s no big surprise many people spend their time in this way. I got to thinking more and more of late though, about the content being presented to me and its impact on individual behaviour and, to an extent, society at large.

An image I saw, first probably over two years ago now, keeps coming back to mind.

 

The picture resonates with many people, and while it may illicit a chuckle, I also want to explore the more concerning side of this trend. No doubt we are all familiar with the volume and virality of the ‘close call’ or ‘witness/bystander’ videos such as here, here and most recentlyhere (The last one is graphic) Volumes could be written on the reasoning and motivation for this behaviour and for that reason I won’t explore the causes here but do want to look at the consequences and effects of this ‘new normal’.

Pope Inauguration. The difference in 8 Years.

Given the footage available for public viewing it seems to me the ‘wiring’ for capturing images runs pretty deep, to the extent I propose we are now seeing a fourth addition to the stress response. Meaning we now have Flight, Fight, Freeze, Film as a predictable behaviour. Along with this, it seems many will inadvertently or intentional put themselves at greater risk for the sake of recording events they see. So what does this mean in regards to conflict?

Trend 1 – There is far higher and exponentially increasing chance that any altercations you are involved in will be captured in both video AND audio. So not only your actions, but your words are recorded and have the possibility of being brought forth as evidence.

Impact – If you haven’t trained in articulation and witness coaching previously, you should be prioritizing it more now. The weight of evidence that potentially can be bought against you is massively increasing.

Trend 2 – Social media in various forms is here to stay for a significant period, and will increase in functionality and accessibility.

Impact – As well as facing criminal and civil charges for any incident you may be involved in, there is now the ‘public’ court to face. This court is brutal, unregulated and can be deeply impacting. The NY Times wrote an exceptional piece on this issue here

Trend 3 – The evidence suggests that many bystanders will now prioritize recording an event ahead of intervening, assisting, or even calling for help. (To make an emergency call would mean to stop recording… Let that sink in for a minute)

Impact – The impact of this is broad and far reaching, but to surmise, you have never been more ‘on your own’ to manage conflict situations while simultaneously subject to mass scrutiny than now.

Trend 4 – The quest to produce a ‘viral’ video is compelling and highly sought after. This results in a number of disturbing social trends, from the ‘knock out’ game, to the meant to be funny but deeply insidious‘pranking’ and a variety of other trends in between.

Impact – Recording of (random) violent incidents is established and will likely become even more popular, and necessarily more gruesome, in order to capture the viewers attention (The phrase ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ has been with us since 1989. That’s over 25 years of direct media prioritization) The odds of being subject to a random or unprovoked attack are increasing, in addition to the likelihood of any incidents you become involved in being captured by multiple witnesses (read, multiple angles).

There is a great many more observation in this ‘new normal’, but for the sake of brevity I will not go further in this article. It has not been my intention to ‘solve’ the problems identified here, merely, at this stage, to raise awareness. But it begs the question, how will you train to tackle these trends?

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