"I was the first to upload this on YouTube!"
“I was the first to upload this on YouTube!”

The cell phone: in today’s society, it is the anchor of both the communications and digital entertainment. Calls, texts, emails, pictures, videos, games, even HD movies – chances are, your phone can send, receive, edit, display, or play most of these.

The video-recording abilities of cell phones, in particular, have grown tremendously over the last 10 years. Some high-end cell phones can record videos that border on professional grade. Instead of carrying around a very expensive, clunky video recorder, you can record, store, and share your favorite events on a device that can fit in your pockets. Unfortunately, it’s this recording and sharing that has led to some pretty controversial trends with cell phone videos.

Many folks have used cell phone videos to either start, or jump start, various social or political changes in their communities. The issue of police conduct/misconduct is a recent example of one such social issue. State and local police forces, in response to videos showing various degrees of police misconduct. are now adding body cameras to their patrolling officers. These cameras, in addition to dash-cams in officers’ cars, will now digitally document any interactions between an officer and whomever he or she is talking to, attempting to arrest, or anything in between.

For every video that leads to some sort of societal change, like the above example, there are dozens of the kind that absolutely drive me nuts. Street fights, school fights, assaults, wrecks, and verbal/physical abuse are just examples of what have made their way onto different social media outlets in the last couple of years.

Why didn't someone pull this cherub off of him?!?
Why didn’t someone pull this cherub off of him?!?

These videos aren’t a huge problem, in the sense that they usually don’t violate the rules of whatever sites they are being posted to, such as YouTube. Some find them entertaining. The problem, for me, is in the fact that more often than not, the recorder of a fight video or an assault video is in position to stop the fights/assaults but don’t or won’t make an effort to. In a few cases, they may have instigated the fight or been a part of the group that instigated it.

For example, there was a particularly disturbing video, circulating a few months ago, of a woman and her kid (somewhere between 3-6) walking through a park. A group of girls, and a couple of guys, started yelling at her, then attacking her. One woman shoved and hit the kid; the kid wasn’t injured too bad, physically. The woman ended up with a busted nose and lip but walked away with her kid, with the group taunting her all the way. The video recorder: stood by and watched.

The Facebook page for the website WorldStarHipHop is starting to become infamous for this type of junk video. The site itself mixes world news articles, interviews and news in the Hip Hop community, and odds and ends from Hollywood and the Entertainment world. Their FB page seems to collect the fight and assault videos, along with other content… with no effort from the recorder to stop the fights. Just giggles in the background and ignorance in the foreground.

My question is this: is the need so urgent that you have to make sure that you get these incidents recorded and shared immediately, rather than maybe stepping in and preventing or stopping them from happening? If someone record eds something like this, but were uncomfortable with stepping in, take the video to the police! Do not run home, download it to YouTube, Vimeo, or some other video site first. At the very least, the police will now have something to use to go looking for suspects, rather than your YouTube or Facebook page getting 100,000 hits and all of the hollow “something needs to be done!” posts.