In Edinburgh, Scotland, a teenager recently saw a man apparently passed out in the street. Instead of stopping to assist the injured man, the teen took a photo and tweeted about the incident.
"Eeeehm wtf? Some guy just casually lying outside Ocean Terminal,” read the 1:56 a.m. post.
The injured man was Craig Williams, who was found seriously injured around 2 a.m. in a bus lane after allegedly being struck by another vehicle. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he passed away several hours later, per BBC News.
While the teen's Twitter account appears no longer to be active, the picture of Williams lying in the road can still be found online. The Huffington Post has chosen not to post the image, originally found on media sharing site Lockerz, but the caption can be seen below:
According to the Daily News, several of the teen's Twitter followers urged him to do something about the sleeping man in the road. "What if like i went over n he like tried doin some dodgy shit to me," he supposedly tweeted back.
Since the incident, the teen has apologized stating that "he didn’t have a clue" how serious the situation was. His uncle, who wished to remain anonymous, also came to his nephew's defense.
"Normally he does not go out at night and he has never drank in his life. All he saw was a guy lying down. He called police when he found the person had died and he will be tweeting an apology. He regrets it totally," the uncle told the Daily Record.
This incident brings up an interesting (and possibly disturbing) habit: Smartphone users have become accustomed to documenting life via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We are constantly streaming our locations or activities to followers, participating in both a virtual world, as well as reality.
Forbes has written about our media addiction thus: "It's a feeling we're all familiar with -- that we'll just sign on, check Facebook, check Twitter, see what's there. The little buildup of tension when the loading screen starts to go, the little release when it jumps and the page loads."
But becoming passive in reality may come with frightening and unfortunate consequences.
What do you think about this teenager's tweet? Do you believe this type of behavior may become more typical as social media grows? Sound off in the comments section or tweet your thoughts to us @HuffPostTech.
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/03/twitter-resist-cigarettes-alcohol-study" target="_hplink">The Guardian</a> reports "tweeting or checking email may be harder to resist" than alcohol, among other substances. In one test conducted by Wilhelm Hofmann of <a href="http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/6/582.abstract" target="_hplink">the University of Chicago,</a> researchers found that users' desire to check their phones was stronger than the urge to grab a drink. Researchers also found "that as the day wore on, willpower became lower" when attempting to avoid a smartphone.
In the same <a href="http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/6/582.abstract" target="_hplink">University of Chicago study,</a> social media was also found to be "more addictive" than cigarettes. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/02/03/facebook-more-addictive-than-cigarettes-study-says/" target="_hplink">Forbes writes</a>: <blockquote>It's a feeling we're all familiar with -- that we'll just sign on, check Facebook, check Twitter, see what's there. The little buildup of tension when the loading screen starts to go, the little release when it jumps and the page loads. It's a quick, easy fix unlikely to give you liver disease or lung cancer, one of the reasons that the addiction may be so much more pervasive than traditionally harmful pastimes.</blockquote> "With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs -- long-term as well as monetary -- and the opportunity may not always be the right one," Hofman, the researcher who conducted the study, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/03/twitter-resist-cigarettes-alcohol-study" target="_hplink">told The Guardian</a>. "So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still 'steal' a lot of people's time."
While the urge for sex may still be stronger, participants in the University of Chicago study had little willpower over their social media needs. <a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/01/27/study-finds-lure-entertainment-work-hard-people-resist" target="_hplink">The University of Chicago News notes,</a> "Desires for sleep and sex were the strongest, while desires for media and work proved the hardest to resist."
Talking Out Loud
Using the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/02/smartphone-usage-stats_n_1643761.html?utm_hp_ref=technology" target="_hplink">"phone" function to talk on on smartphones has increasingly been taking a back seat</a> to Facebook-ing, tweeting, checking-in, and the like. Chitchatting on the phone after school doesn't happen often for today's younger generations. In a study involving over 1,000 13- to 17-year-olds, Facebook "dominated teens, with seven out of 10 people surveyed saying they have an account," <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-tech/post/many-teens-tell-survey-theyre-addicted-to-social-media-texting/2012/06/25/gJQAvZc72V_blog.html" target="_hplink">per The Washington Post.</a> The study also found that only 4 percent of the participants prefer to use the telephone as a method of communication. So maybe we still don't know much about how addictive phone calls are relative to social media -- but we do know they're a whole lot less popular.
<a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/08/technology-addiction-chocolate-caffeine.html" target="_hplink">The LA Times</a> reports that 55 percent of Americans polled in a survey said caffeine was less crucial to them than access to social media: <blockquote> More than half of Americans would rather give up chocolate, alcohol and caffeine for a week before parting temporarily with their phones, according to a <a href="http://www.telenav.com/about/pr-summer-travel/report-20110803.html" target="_hplink">recent survey</a> by technology firm TeleNav.</blockquote>
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2008/jan/10/facebookmoreaddictivethanp" target="_hplink">The Guardian reports</a> that a panel at a Citigroup conference in 2008 discussed an interesting correlation between high Facebook usage and low web traffic for adult websites: <blockquote>While causation is a tricky burden to prove, the theory goes that young people are too busy social networking to get, er... distracted by adult online content. Apparently when Facebook had server problems last year there was a corresponding spike up of users returning to look at adult content.</blockquote>
Gillmor Gang on Social Media
The Gillmor Gang discuss the progress and power of social media.