If you look back on some of the most significant moments in society in recent history, you’ll notice a pattern: they started because something was caught on video, and shared on the internet.

These things we carry around in our pockets are clearly very powerful tools. But are we abusing that power?

People who take out their phones to record strangers who are having bad days: Why?
byu/erik316wttn inAskReddit

Let’s see what Reddit has to say. (Warning: some stories recounted here are very intense and involve injury and death.)

1. The worst neighbor

One time I actually went verbally abusive towards my neighbour for this.

My fiancé is an epileptic. His seizures can be life threatening as they sometimes stop his heart. One evening last year he had one of those and I had to perform CPR. I obviously simultaneously called an ambulance and they came shortly after, leaving the lights on because they had to park in the middle of the street.

Now after a seizure, my fiancé is very disoriented. He doesn’t know where he is, who he is, who anyone else is, it sometimes differs, but it’s always bad. On this particular day, he remembered me and took to me for help in his confusion. He couldn’t feel his legs, he didn’t know what was happening, he didn’t realize he only hat his underpants on (we had gone to sleep about an hour before and it was a very hot day). He was bleeding from his mouth because he had bitten a tiny bit of his tongue off and his chest was red from me hitting it during CPR. He looked awful.

When the paramedics and I helped him outside to bring him to the ambulance, he wasn’t able to put any clothes on due to his disorientation and would shrug any blanket off because it was too hot.

The neighbour, alerted by the siren and lights of the ambulance, was standing outside his house, beer in hand, filming us. I helped put my fiancé into the ambulance and went to grab a bag of stuff for the hospital. My fiancé cried out for me like a lost child since I was the only person he recognised. It was heartbreaking. And my a**hole of a neighbour filmed it all while laughing his drunken a** off. I went over, yelled at him in very explicit language and demanded he delete the video. He just laughed at me.

Well, joke was on him. I called the cops and they took the phone. He got to pay a fine for filming a person without permission (illegal in Germany) and has now orders to stay away from us.

I still wonder what he thought while doing this. Or if he thought s**t at all.

– HoloSluttyB**ch

2. The water park creep

Me and my friend were wearing our bathing suits at a water park and one of the staff members was taking video of us.

So, I went up to him and freaked out demanding he show me he delete it.

We were like 14 at the time and he was probably like 50.

Now that I’m older and wiser I should have reported him to the water park.

– catiebrownie

3. Don’t take the bait

One time we were driving through a neighborhood to get to my brothers, and this car was sitting in the center of the street. We stopped for a bit and they didn’t move, so we slowly went around them. Nothing aggressive, we gave them time to go but they just sat there. Two cars behind us did the same.

Well, that must’ve p**sed them off because they followed us and chewed out my husband and their reasoning didn’t really make sense. I noticed his girl was filming. She probably thought my husband, a big white dude, was going to be aggressive to them.

Instead he just told them they were in the middle of the road and to have a nice day. The guy kept going but we kept telling them to have a nice day and waited for them to leave. My husband was p**sed but I told him he reacted the right way because they wanted to catch something on film and didn’t.

– Si0ra

4. Never be “Jake”

New Years Eve, the year 2000. I was working security for this event.

Firework show was over at the local park, everyone was leaving, and I heard a terrible scream behind me. A teenaged girl had fallen out of the tree she’d been in to watch the fireworks, onto the park bench below, and busted out her front teeth.

She was squealing and howling, and I got her to open her mouth so I could assess the damage. It was not good; teeth were broken off just below the gum line. Her jaw didn’t seem to be broken though, so there was that, and there wasn’t a lot of bleeding. I held her hand and told her that it was going to be alright, that the damage was fixable; that I’d had my own front teeth busted out, and they’d fixed it just fine, gave her my winning smile (you really can’t see the damage).

I’d just gotten her down from screaming to crying when her mother showed up. I stood up to get out of the way, and found there was this f**ker (looked like a college student, accompanied by some girl of the same age) standing there not 10 feet away with a videocamera and a smile, filming this with great intensity, like it was the most exciting s**t he’d ever seen.

I stood up to face him. “WTF is wrong with you?”

“This girl is having the worst moment of her life, and you’re what? Gunna film it so you can enjoy it in the privacy of your own home?”

At this point I saw the change on the face of the girl he was with as it dawned on her that she was with a creep. She gave him this look of cautious disgust/concern and said “Jake. Stop. We need to go.”

He kept filming. He was just totally transfixed by it all. She looked at him for about 4 long seconds. “I’m leaving. NOW.” she announced, and walked away. He decided to reluctantly follow her, but walking backward, filming me standing there looking at him until they’d disappeared into the crowd.

I’ve sometimes wondered, when he viewed that footage later if it was really as awesome as he imagined it would be at the time. I think probably not.

– ProfessorZhirinovsky

5. You DO know your phone works as like, a PHONE right?

One time I witnessed a car accident. A public domestic that transformed into the male hopping into a car and screeching away the wrong way down a one way street into oncoming traffic and crashing at moderate speed.

As the woman related to the male in the car collapsed at the side of the street weeping and screaming, I called the emergency services to get help.

Out of 50 or more people on the street that day only 1 person called 999. More than 20 people lined the road to film and gawk instead of help. I was a little sick of humanity that day.

– SlapstickSolo

6. Sometimes you’re just a jerk

I saw some creep taking a video of a homeless woman in Seattle who was obviously having a bad day.

I confronted him and his response is “I’m sending it to my wife who is a nurse.”

Yeah right, dude. I’m sure she would appreciate all of the laughing you were doing while recording it.

I’ll never forget that. If you see something, speak up for someone who might not be able to.

– Momapukititojohn

7. See something, say something

My wife and I came across a couple of people filming a man who was clearly having some mental trauma and coping with drug use. Police were attending and it was all good.

My wife stands right in front of their cameras and causes a huge scene calling them out for their sh**ty behaviour right in their own videos and in front of a busy grocery store. As a confrontation avoider myself, I have never been so proud and amazed by her. She’s great.

– themadmountainman

8. You’re just making it worse

I think it’s wrong to film strangers period, especially if they are having an obvious mental health breakdown.

Why compound someone’s suffering further by sharing them at their lowest for the world to see and to put there for all posterity.

– Farkenoathm8-E

9. It’s not paranoia if you’re really being followed

I used to work in a mall and this guy was clearly having a psychotic break/drug induced paranoia. Got stopped by security and told them that people were chasing him and he had to get away from them. They made no attempt to try to intervene and just proceeded to follow him around the mall. He then jumped over the railing and was standing on the ledge overlooking the next floor about 30-40 feet down and a huge crowd gathered and started filming him.

It was the most pathetic display of humanity I had seen in such a long time, imagine thinking people are chasing you and then having 100 people with their phones out filming you. He ended up falling/jumping (I didn’t see, I went in the back of the store I was working at) but I just heard this awful gasp of a crowd as he fell the 30 feet and then
tons of screaming.

Everyone in that mall who took the time to film and stare at this guy should of felt so much remorse but I feel like a lot of them didn’t.

– Jacobdr4

10. The Harlem Westboro

I live across the street from the Harlem equivalent of the Westboro Baptist church. All kinds of bulls**t on their sign every day that is anti-gay, and they blast the gross sermons so loud. I’m constantly having to explain all of this to my four kids, which is more than a nuisance.

One day, while walking with my three boys to the park, one of my dogs peed about a quarter cup on the sidewalk. One of the employees or cult members of this organization then began screaming and swearing at me about “Your dog can’t pee on a church, motherf**ker (it was on the public-owned sidewalk)!!!!”

Right in front of my kids, screaming and swearing and telling me I needed to get some water and pour it on the urine.

I said that her little hate group was cute and all, and that if I could teach my dog to pee sideways on her church, I would do it.

She began taping me at this point. I wished her well, informed her that love is love, and that I’m tired of having to explain their nonsense to my children, and that I’d appreciate it if she wouldn’t yell and curse right in front of my young children.

Not really sure what she aimed to gain by taping me, and I know, not really a bad day, just a shitty church and a rude bitch, but I thought I’d share.

– youdubdub

11. Do you even have empathy?

I got into a really scary car accident in China a couple years back.

A truck had tipped and fallen on top of my car as it passed, thankfully I was driving a well-built car that didn’t crumble under the weight. By the time I crawled out, a bunch of people had gathered and were filming, but no one except the truck driver came to help me out.

I later found out the video was uploaded online, and the top comments were all extremely horrible, making jokes about my weight (I’m not your stereotypical small and skinny Asian girl).

It’s taken quite a bit of self reflection, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that a lot of people just don’t have enough empathy. They don’t think about how their own actions may affect others. I’ve also come to the realization that when people attack others online, it’s because they just aren’t satisfied with themselves. I try not to take these things personally anymore, and try to understand how the society they grew up in caused them to be like this.

– quackamoo

12. The cruelty is the point

I’d like to know why some of you made entire blogs devoted to these photos as well.

I went to an anime con one year in a homemade Gothic Lolita cosplay I was very proud of. Took me weeks to re-stitch extra lace onto a dress I already had. I spent hundreds on accessories and I was so proud to finally let my friends see it.

I found an ugly photo of me, mid laugh, with chocolate on my face from a donut with literal paragraphs of comments with people saying how disgusting I was. I was only 15 but I was 5’1″ and over 300lbs. I get that I was huge but I was simply a kid trying to have a fun time with friends and instead I had a blog with GROWN A** ADULTS talking about how they’d use me as a “fat c** dump” before the night was over.

– CrepeSuzette85

13. Snooping as a commodity

Los Olivos, maybe 8 years ago. Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel (!) were stumbling drunk for their assistant’s bachelorette party. Whole busload of friends.

Surprisingly no one recognized K&Z as the two were shopping in a small boutique shop. Literally buying up everything, all the inventory. 10 of X, 20 of Y…one for all the on the bus. The owner was beyond thrilled (also clueless to the drunk customers identity) and understandably ignored us in the store also to shop.

While shopping, they dropped their wine glasses, fell over, laughing on the floor, spilled jewelry…just fall down drunk. Remember thinking “they seem fun” and walked out.

Only later did I realize “i sooo could have filmed that and sold to TMZ!!” Then was pleased I wasn’t a f**king d**k and questioned how anyone could even think to do that as their first thought.

– figbean

14. Sometimes it’s for safety

This entirely depends on whether “bad day” means having a heart attack and getting CPR, hit by a bus, etc, versus meaning “engaging in an abusive meltdown.”

If it’s the former it’s wrong to film and we can assume the person doing so is a jerk. If it’s the latter then we can assume they’re filming because the person deserves to be held accountable and their victims deserve what actually happened to be documented so that the person cannot lie about it afterward… especially because there is often a power imbalance between the abusive person and their target so in the absence of video authorities might trust the abuser over the victim.

– SuspendedCommie

15. Gore tourism

One day I was sitting in a subway train wagon on my way home.

During one of the stops, the loudspeakers announce that an unauthorized person was on the track and service would be back at an unspecified time.

Everyone left the train and directed themselves to an overpass over the tracks leading toward the exit. As we walked that overpass, the train moved and revealed a mangled dead body on the tracks.

I remember feeling shocked but what struck me the most is how everyone on the overpass scrambled to take their cellphones out to record or take pictures of the dead guy. That was a serious wtf moment for me.

I just left the scene while the crowd around the edge of the overpass was growing. I’m still in disbelief that this is the first thought these people had at the sight of a dead body. Take a picture.

– Codexlibero

Maybe we just weren’t built to have these things at our fingertips.

But what do you think of all this?

Tell us in the comments.