Red Nose Day

A: Hi. I’ve been thinking about red nose day.
B: Really. What about it?
A: Well more about ‘charity’ and ‘giving’ really.
B: Go on.
A: Well, imagine this situation… You’ve been shopping and bought a really nice new pair of shoes. They’ve cost you £80.
B: Nice shoes.
A: Yep. Then as you’re walking home past the canal you see a small child obviously drowning. The canal’s not that deep. Would you wade in and save the child even though it will mean ruining your new shoes?
B: Of course. Next question.
A: Scenario number 2. You’ve bought the shoes but have taken a different route home. You see a poster of an African child obviously starving. You read the notice and it says that it would cost £80 to keep this child alive. Would you return to the shop, collect your £80 and send the money to the charity?
B: I’d like to think I would.
A: But…
B: Of course I wouldn’t.
A: Why do you think that is?
B: I’m not really sure. No doubt you’ve a theory or 2 on this?
A: Indeed. I guess one element in explaining this is the phenomena known as social loafing. This concerns how people behave in groups. There seems to be some element of laziness, of ‘someone else will do it’ in all of us.
B: Have you a dramatic illustration of this?
A: This was dramatically illustrated in the case of Kitty Genovese in New York in 1964. According to the reports for more than thirty minutes 38 citizens watched a killer stalk and stab Kitty Genovese in three separate attacks. Twice the talking and glow of the lights in the apartments forced the assailant to leave but he returned to kill her. No one telephoned the police during the assault. One woman contacted the police after the woman was dead.
B: Anything else spring to mind?
A: Perhaps there’s the ‘giving overload’ aspect. For a long time now we seem to have been bombarded with images of starving children, mistreated animals, old people suffering. It’s just not news anymore and the emotional shock value has all but disappeared.
B: So – big implications for comic relief I guess?
A: Exactly. They have to keep making it different.
B: So, sitting in a bath of beans no longer works?
A: Afraid not.
B: So I can get out then?
A: Yes please, and don’t leave a mess on the carpet.
B: Why didn’t you just say in the first place?

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