If you witnessed someone being bullied right in front of you and didn’t know that anyone was watching, how would you react?
These kinds of questions have been posed by philosophers and members of society alike for years. While most people would like to think that they’d be the first to jump in and rescue a complete stranger, it’s hard to know just how we’d react until we’re in that kind of situation ourselves.
It’s in that moment that you see a person’s true colors reveal themselves, and heroes among us emerge from our ranks. It’s inspiring to watch, and that is precisely what YouTuber Matt Bandeira was able to reveal in a hidden-camera candid social experiment one day.
Using a trio of young actresses, he set up a scenario in a public park. Two of the girls, dressed in the latest fashions and sporting perfectly styled hair, were told to pretend to pick on a third girl—who didn’t look quite as cool or confident. With the typical “bullying” situation all set up, Bandeira hid a camera and started rolling; would anyone eventually step in?
The 10 million viewers of the video watched as the experiment played out three different times. As the two “bullies” teased the third girl about her hair and her clothes, dug through her backpack, and called her names, the people being tested—first a couple, then two separate women out on their own—witnessed the bullying unfold and contemplated their responses.
Observing each person’s moment of choice, we can only anticipate anxiously. Will they pretend they don’t see what’s happening? Or will they rise to the occasion, meet the cruel injustice head on, and do the right thing? And from that moment, the outcomes of the experiment were pleasantly surprising.
The first couple sat quietly through the initial exchange but stepped in as soon as the “bullies” dumped out the other girl’s backpack.
“You need to treat people how you want to be treated,” the woman in the couple said, stepping in to physically intervene and give a lecture.
The next woman who witnessed the staged ordeal had an even better reaction.
“Excuse me. What are you doing? Stop doing this. Are you bullying her?” she said. “Did your mother teach you that? Learn to treat everyone equally. We are all human beings. She’s smart. She’s beautiful.”
Her words resonated with dozens of viewers, particularly given how she applied a broader lesson—not just a quick chastisement directed at this particular incident. Her insistence that the girls recognize that we’re all human beings is a lesson that everyone can learn from, not just the young girls in the video, and it was a nice reminder that not everyone is content to turn a blind eye.
Not everyone who witnesses someone doing the wrong thing is going to stop and make a difference. But as Bandeira pointed out, you never know who’s watching—and clearly, more and more people are willing to do the right thing after all.