Over at Slate, Seth Stevenson revisited last year’s viral event of do-gooderism, where an elderly bus monitor was videotaped being bullied on a school bus by some twelve-year-olds being particularly nasty twelve-year-olds.
Hundreds of people, spurred on initially by Reddit, donated to give this woman money for a vacation. But then it just kept going and going. The donations ended up north of $700,000.
Which is great. But of all the people out there who need and deserve money, why $700,000 for this one woman? As Stevenson points out, what about rape victims? Isn’t $700,000 for this bus monitor a little overkill?
Stevenson talked with experts on crowd behavior, and they pointed out the extent to which we’re drawn to simplicity and concreteness when banding together to take action:
Reicher attributes the giving frenzy, in part, to concretization. “For an abstract idea to affect us,” he says, “it often helps if it’s turned into something concrete and embodied. To say lots of people are suffering is an abstract concept. To see this one woman suffering, and be able to help her, is more concrete.”