What would you do?
I saw a snippet of a thus-titled show recently in which the producers set up situations in which someone is doing something rude in public and among strangers and the object is to see who jumps in. What is unclear to me, however, is if the behavior of the antagonist is perceived as not only rude, but also as self-effacing, for aren’t people who are behaving in an undeniably rude manner also embarrassing themselves? It is further unclear whether or not those who do jump in are perceived as helpful in that manner, as saving not only the object of the rudeness (in the cases where one exists) but also saving the person from snap judgements such as ‘rude’, or ‘mean’.
And of course these are complete strangers so, what then, of situations in which someone you know, and perhaps even care about, is behaving in a manner which is widely deemed as negative or humiliating? It is then good to jump in or does that label you a busybody? Are friends and loved ones in any way obligated to try to somehow, some way, save that person from themselves, from the repercussions of stumbling around a party or offending people with callous actions and/or remarks or behaving in any one of many socially offensive behaviors? Is that caring? Or is that also rude? Is one’s job in such situations to look the other way, or to step in somehow — at the moment, after the moment, in anticipation of an upcoming moment? For what does it mean in terms of implied obligatory response in situations where one suffers from second-hand embarrassment due to the actions of another, as exacerbated by side-eye glances and slightly arched eyebrows?
To jump in at any of those past, present or future moments can be a lose-lose proposition in that the self-appointed ‘hero’ can be perceived as an annoyance, groaned about in private, one who fails to mind their own business, or worse, but yet, in some situations the reverse is a possible outcome such as an alcohol-related arrest or much much worse.
I’d like to see a show about that, in which group social interactions are set up in order to see what unfolds; in which perhaps there is money, well-being, safety, respect of one’s peers, or social-standing, in the position to be gained or lost, at stake. Because quite honestly, in such situations I know what I would do (which would be directly dependent on whether or not this is someone I care about, or even love, or merely worry for), but I don’t exactly know what is the ‘right’ thing to do. Cameras or not, life is a stage of sorts and judgment can be swift and difficult to alter. One thing I do know is that if you care enough to act you are absolutely at risk and so you best have the stomach for gambling.
And, what would you want others to do for you in such situations? What is the truly kind thing to do and is the kind thing also the socially acceptable thing to do? Is it better to mind your own business and just avoid such situations in the future? I really want to know.