The year I was born, my parents paid an incredible $1,000 for a VHS camcorder that was about the size of a microwave.

I grew up playing with that thing until the day I broke the power cable. I loved it, it was the stuff of magic, and if you’d have told me that by the time I was a grown up just about *everyone in the country* would have a vastly superior camera in their pocket at all times, I’d probably punch you in the face out of sheer excitement and confusion.

But there may just be downsides to this modern miracle. Downsides like these, mentioned on Ask Reddit:

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

Are we all using our tech for the crude and the invasive? What’s going on there? Let’s dive into some of the most interesting responses.

Be advised that some stories recounted here are very intense and involve violence and death.

1. The traumatized video response

There was this really bad accident one town over where this dude from out of town ran past a stop sign and slammed into a van full of 3 or 4 children, the mother and the father. Some weren’t wearing seatbelts. The father and son in the van survived with some injuries. The mother had a brain injury. Three children died (one was unborn).

The father recorded video after video about the event that happened. He documented every painful thing that happened to help him cope with what happened. He shared it all to Facebook to reach out to the community for help. This is all fine, but this man’s wife had just lost two babies, and her unborn baby. She was in a coma unlikely to wake up.

In a turn of events, the wife woke up and began to rally. This is where I became grossed out. Shortly after she woke from her coma, the husband pulls out his phone and records himself telling his wife that they lost three of their children. He puts the phone in her face rather than console her. Then, he posted it online for the hundreds and hundreds of people following the event on Facebook. This woman just got out of a coma, and just received the worst news of her life, and this man put it online for the world to see. Absolutely disgusting. The wife died later on too. Terrible situation. I can’t claim to know what I would do if it were me, but it was awful to see.

– ClapDatTurdcutter

2. Don’t take the bait

I was just doing my job one day when this “customer” got extremely upset because she wasn’t getting her own way and got her phone out and stuck it in my face and started filming.

I really wanted to grab it out of her hand and launch it as far as I could but luckily I didn’t take the bait and kept my job.

– _Rick_O_Shea_

3. Why are you watching and not helping?

I lived in a place where there was this small dam, with a road running along it. One winter an elderly couple slid off the road into the water. It wasn’t deep. But deep enough to drown if you are sitting down in a car.

The first guy who pulls over leaps out and into the water and start trying to force his way into the car to pull them out. In a few moments later other people pull over. Everyone pulls out their phones. Not to call the emergency services, no no. They start filming. The guy in the water screams at the other to help, to call the emergency services, to get in the water and get the people in the car out.

Eventually the emergency services get there. One of the two in the car is dead, the other in a coma from hypothermia and and oxygen deprivation. They awake some days later to learn their spouse drowned.

I don’t actually have an answer to your question, but this was what it made me think of, and i just can’t figure out why the f**k people would be like this, and how the h**l they live with themselves.

– hiphap91

4. Make the dang call

When I did first aid at my last job the a**hole who pulled out their phone to start filming was the person who was designated to call 911 and go wait for the ambulance. I would usually take the phone from them and dial 911 on speaker and hand it back to them so I could talk then go “ok, now go wait for the ambulance and bring the paramedics here”.

They were usually so unbalanced that I grabbed their phone they didn’t have a chance to object. So, now I have someone taking care of the paramedics and the a**hole filming is gone.

Don’t be that guy, nobody respects you.

– zerbey

5. The case of the mistaken Karen

A woman posted a few weeks ago somewhere that she was trying to return something to a baby supply store and they kept just offering her store credit. She tried explaining she had a miscarriage and couldn’t use it, and they kept insisting she get store credit, which just added so much injury to insult.

She got to the point where she was just sobbing and begging for a refund because she didn’t have any money for a hotel in the city she was staying to get the procedure to remove the fetus, and she was desperate.

Some a**hole, of course, whipped out his phone and started recording her without any idea why she was upset, and calling her “Karen”. She, understandably, went off on him.

I can’t even imagine how heartbroken and distressed she was, and someone took advantage of it for social media attention. These days, it’s just assumed that someone who is upset is being a terrible person for whatever reason. That’s not always the case.

Honestly, just leave people alone, especially if you know nothing about the situation.

– eyebrowshampoo

6. The protection footage

I did it once when I saw a lady slapping the s**t out of her boyfriend in public. I was only taking photos while having a stroll when it happened, and I thought that the cops would be right along. She eventually stormed off, he noticed me and started screaming at me to delete the video. I explained that it was evidence that he didn’t start or participate in the fight, and he calmed down.

Cops never came, we went our separate ways, and I deleted the video.

I would’ve done it for anyone, no matter who.

I don’t even think about uploading it for people to snicker at public freakout

– rick_blatchman

7. A trainwreck

I’d like to ask this to the teenagers who filmed a close family friends body after being hit by a train and then shared it on Facebook.

His 14yr old niece had to see it.

I’m not an advocate for violence but boy would I love to give one good slap across the face of the person who did that.

– faeriethorne23

8. Gathering evidence

I filmed an old lady being mugged from my hotel window.

I had recently had surgery and could barely cross the room let alone get outside without help (my sister was staying with me but she’d gone to get food) I couldn’t intervene.

So I figured I couldn’t help the best I could do was gather evidence so they were caught.

I sent the video to the police. I did not put it on social media for “likes”. I kept it a while in case the police contacted me then deleted it.

– Slytherinrabbit

9. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction

Once I witnessed a young guy get under a big bus while he was crossing the street. The bus was going way too fast and the guy was running across a red pedestrian light on a crosswalk. The was gore everywhere and his friends were in absolute panic. The ambulance was called.

There was this moment in my head, in which my thought was, this is really shocking and I have to share this with my friends. My automatic thought was to pull out my phone and record it.

While I was making the gesture to do it, I remember looking at him, and thinking, what would it be like to have the last moment alive seeing random people taking pictures and videos of you. What would that be like if it was me, and it made me feel really sad.

I took a few more seconds to think about what I was about to do, and restrained myself. I then went home and had trouble falling asleep for the next few days.

So, to answer your question, when I reflect I would say this:

  • First, don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it
  • Second, it’s an unusual experience they want to share with friends
  • And third and final, don’t want to feel empathy for the other person so they don’t feel bad.

– krakasha

10. “You could’ve just run him over”

Had a situation once where my wife and I were stopped at a light (in a city center), and a guy on a bike produced a weapon and said he would be following us. I was in the passenger seat and don’t deal with threats, especially when my wife is involved. I got out and removed the weapon, and incapacitated the guy on the bike. Several dozen people were standing around with their phones out, but nobody tried to pull me off him.

This may be a stupid thing to say, seeing as there was a weapon involved and I am a rather large person, but I was a bit upset that everyone had a phone out but nobody tried to stop the altercation. It was probably safer for everyone involved, but nobody was even saying “stop”, just standing there with phones recording.

By the way kids, try not to do what I did. He went to jail, but I still had to appear before a judge to account for my actions. He let me off, but reminded me that we were safer in the car and “could’ve just run him over”. Seems a bit off, but save yourself the trouble.

– tcinternet

11. We’re not here for your entertainment

Some absolute s**t lowest tier human saw my friend struggling with her high needs autistic little boy who was melting down and unfortunately had learned some swear words at school.

My friend was in tears in the street and this wanker was filming and laughing from his van.

Whoever you are you are the actual worst.

– Perfect_Rooster1038

12. Social media was a mistake

Because people are entitled a**holes, have a friend who’s almost agoraphobic at this point and one of her fears about going out is getting her picture/video taken and having it end up online, social media was a mistake (and yes I see the irony of me posting this on here)

– in_animate_objects

13. Where’d your butt go?

I’ll always remember when a group of girls took pictures of my backside when they were behind me in line at a gas station. I’m very skinny and have like no butt at all.

They were saying stuff like “omg where is it?! There’s nothing there” thinking I couldn’t hear them.

Now I am constantly insecure about it and wear long tops to cover my backside as much as possible 🙁

– Pibbed

14. Tragedy tourism

Im an EMT.

The amount phones out during a vehicle accident.

Had a DOA one evening where a guy fell from a faulty balcony rail… I saw onlookers started whipping out phones. I took my ambulance and parked it blocking anyones view. Didnt stop the a**holes who lived behind the building whip out there phones.

Cops came and simply asked them to report to the station to give their phones as evidence. The s**ts they took at that moment in their pants made my f**king day. Good Cop. People are disgusting.

– SenorPoopie

15. De-escalation

If it’s looking like a “bad day” is about to turn violent, that’s when I get my phone out for evidence and be ready to help. Any footage that doesn’t end up with something incriminating in it gets deleted after the encounter.

This is just a habit I ended up getting into after growing up around a lot of violence that ended up in actual legal disputes.

A lot of people also decide to put a lid on it when they realize they’re being filmed, so it can be a form of de-escalation, though they may cuss you out a bit for it. Which is fine, I’ll take being cussed out and empty threats of “I’ll sue you” over things escalating to violence.

There’s always going to be the oddball that intensifies their rage, but that’s quite to their legal detriment.

– probablyonmobile

Just try to think twice before you start shooting, yeah?

Have you been in a situation like this?

Tell us about it in the comments.