The September murder of 20-year-old Justin Valdez on a busy train underscores the need for people to get reconnected with their surroundings.  Valdez was randomly chosen on a busy train by a shooter.  The San Francisco State University student was shot in the back.

“Some are no more than two to three feet to him,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon,

“We’re seeing people that are so disconnected to their surroundings. This is not unique. People are being robbed, people are being hurt, people are being run over by cars because they’re so disconnected…”

A suspect has been arrested and charged with the murder.  He has pled not guilty.  The phenomenon of witnesses being distracted by technology and their own lives will tragically continue.

“Just for our own safety, wouldn’t you want to know if somebody standing next to you is pulling a gun out?” said Gascon.

The security footage of the incident is chilling.  The man wearing a baseball hat and smiling lifts a .45-caliber handgun in plain view three to four times over several minutes.  He waves it around.  At one point running the gun under his own nose.  Nobody noticed until it was too late for Valdez.

People get so engrossed by their phones in mundane, stupid, often harmless situations as well, including walking into fountains and walking past bears on a hiking trail.  The Internet is full of videos that people take pleasure watching, but there are also dangerous situations where people don’t even notice what’s happening around them because they are too engrossed in their own lives, such as in the case of public beatings, car crashes, hit and runs, and falling onto metro tracks.  Even if people won’t step in and help, they could record the situation for police (create a record, not to put on the Internet, but to more easily catch the actual perpetrator), or at the very least, use the phone to call 911 immediately.  It’s the ignorance of what’s occurring in other’s lives or in life in general.  Sadly, there is no sign that this trend will end.


  1. Lon Spector says:

    This phenomenon has been well studied. It’s called social proof. If nobody else is bothered, then there’s no reason why I should be bothered. This often occurs where large crowds congregate in urban areas. If one person takes action then the others will respond.


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