This was several months ago when a loud bang woke me up, well, actually shot me out of bed. Not sure what the noise was I looked around to see if someone had broken into my apartment. All was safe. Then I looked out my window and I saw a car across the street on fire. A car had crashed into a telephone pole and was going up in flames.
Now here is where I feel awful and yet gets me thinking…
Instead of reaching for the phone to call 9-1-1, like you have been trained to do since a little kid, I did what I have been trained to do in my career and grabbed my camera (iPhone camera bc it was at arms length). I started taking a video of the car on fire as others ran across the street trying to help. I admit writing this I feel awful, as I mentioned, but stay with me. As I shot this video, my wife ran to the phone to call 9-1-1and report the crash and I kept the camera rolling. What was I hoping for? I remember thinking in my head, “this is going to go viral, this is going to be on all the news stations and look at these great angles I am getting.” What did I do with the video you ask? Nothing! I’m ashamed I even shot it instead of running outside to help. However it did start a conversation in my head.
How often do people go for the picture or video instead of helping someone? In a world where one viral video can launch your career or make you famous, how many people dream of the opportunity I had to shoot a real life car explosion? In my opinion this has everything to do with psychology and how we think and how we think differently now that social media exists. Working in news for years, I know that unfortunately great content can be in the form of bad situations (“If it bleeds it leads”). And these numbers I found support that- how an amateur shot video of a tsunami has over 6 million views:
I even found a video of someone waiting for some unfortunate person to crash in a snowstorm has almost 3 million views:
How many views could I get? As a video guy I think this is the most interesting social debate we can have. Has video become so powerful that the minute we are in a situation we think, “I need to get this on camera!” For me- something daily makes me pull out my phone and shoot a video. What about you?
I believe video in this social world is a game changer. Look at what a video about Kony did, millions more now know about this guy because of an online video. I’m just a little scared of what has happened to us mentally now that video is so easy to shoot. The New York Times released an interesting white paper on the psychology of sharing (2011 NYT POS White Paper 10-18-11). The report starts of with “the basic question of why people share content online has slipped by largely unanswered.” It goes on to state “the compulsion to share and enjoyment in sharing are, on their own, important parts of consumers life’s.” I believe a good video needs to relevant, creative and engaging. My car crash video has all of this but I wish two things. One, I would of engaged in real life and helped the people inside the car (who are fine according to articles I have read). Second, I should of recorded a video about the random people who all bonded together and rescued the people trapped inside the car as it was on fire…. that is the type of video I want to see go viral.
Car photo by Jason Bolonksi, licensed under Creative Commons