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.

1. 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

2. 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

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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

7. “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

8. 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

9. 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

10. 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

11. 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

12. 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

13. 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 d**d (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 d**d 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

14. 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_

15. 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 d**d, 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

16. 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

17. 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

18. 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

19. 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

20. 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

21. 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

22. 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

23. 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

24. 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

25. 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 h**e 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 s**tty church and a rude b**ch, but I thought I’d share.

– youdubdub

26. 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

27. 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

28. 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

29. 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

30. 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 d**d 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 d**d 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 d**d 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.