You stand in front of your speckled living room windowpane, window cracked, and breathe in the fresh, crisp city air as you scan the familiar perimeter. Coffee in hand and a full day in wait, a Friday no less, you sigh in anticipation of what is to come – the distance to cloud nine fast-diminishing. As you continue to gaze at nothing, everything, something catches your eye, a man. This man, nondescript but definitely homeless, is lurking near your apartment complex entrance, to which you live adjacent, and is suspiciously canvasing the very same perimeter. After he decides that the coast is clear, a clear bottle with clear liquid quickly emerges from a previously hidden brown bag and is pressed to his lips. Seconds later, literally, the man detaches the empty bottle from his still-cupped lips. He scans the perimeter one more, quicker this time, before discreetly disposing of the bottle behind a slightly overgrown bush and casually walks away.
What happens next? The man has provided the action but is up to you to provide the reaction. You have a plethora of ways to react but the choice, though shaped by outside influences, is ultimately yours and yours alone. Your emotional response to the “situation” will like trigger your reaction so it comes down one question, how affected are you personally?
A) If you are HORRIFIED/STUPIFIED/SCARED you…
…call your building super and blast him/er for allowing such villainy in near their edifice.
…call the cops immediately and demand action as well as increased surveillance.
…call your roommate, or a close friend, and beg for advice.
…yell at the man that you are calling the cops(!), behind now drawn curtains of course.
B) If you are ANNOYED/PERTURBED/UNAFRAID you…
…email your building super to let him/her know this is going on.
…text your roommate, or friend, and ask for advice.
…draw back the curtains and yell directly at the man to get lost!
C) If you are fully STUNTED/UNSHOCKED/AMUSED/MEH you…
…post this ‘great’ story on Tumblr for the world to see how crazy your life is.
…mentally remind yourself to tell this story at the bar later.
…realize you still need to get ready so you do just that and forget all about it.
D) If you are ENVIRONMENTAL/ALTRUISTIC/NICE you…
…go outside, pick up the bottle and recycle it.
…go outside, find the man and ask him if there is anything you can do for him.
…make a conscious decision to volunteer more to help the less fortunate.
Which response did you choose? Your response doesn’t determine if you’re a good or bad person but instead highlights the world today. Increased and constant exposure to things like violence and sexuality are prevalent and readily available to anyone with an internet connection or television. It is truly difficult in today’s climate to be truly shocked by anything, not vodka-chugging homeless men outside your window, possible gun-shots within ear-shot or genocide in countries worlds away.
It’s entirely possible that we are emotionally turned off. Think about it. When was the last time that you were absolutely stunned by something? Seriously, has society stunted our growth as humans or we’re just emotionally advanced and exist on higher, knowledge-based and technology-fueled plane? It’s difficult to be certain but personally, as a resident of Boston over the last year, I know that I retain the ability to be stunned and for that I am grateful.