Fight, Flight or Share

: Yehoram Davidi, Hadas Sadeh 06 November 2017
Mass shooting or a deadly tsunami have a shocking impact, in more than one way. In a matter of minutes, dozens of live videos are broadcast in all social platforms. Over and over we witness a phenomenon that seems to contradict all our basic instincts – facing danger, people chose to stand with their smartphone out and post everything on real-time. How can we understand this phenomenon and do these people really choose to act this way?

Naturally, we react to immediate danger on a 'Fight or Flight' basis – a bio-psychological instinct, formed by a survival impulse. In nature all creatures are either predators or pray, and that reality had implemented a set of structured reactions from the beginning of our being. An encounter with a predator will have triggered an automatic response that would secure the best survival chances.

Today we live in two environments simultaneously: physical and virtual (soon we will be addressing them as online and offline). Many articles and speeches deal with the enormous impact of the social networks and our almost pathological need to snap, document, post and share everything. We have heard it more than once – a prophecy of a glorious (or apocalyptic) future in which human and network will become one.

The findings are right there – a horrific shooting took place in Las Vegas just a few weeks ago. A short search shows dozens of videos from the scene. People literally face a terrible threat and broadcast live. How can a basic survival instinct be shut down or replaced with connecting to the virtual world?

Well, perhaps the basic survival instinct does not really disappear. None of the Las Vegas shooting survivors expressed a death wish and they were very aware of the immediate danger they were facing. So, it is possible that we are observing an ancient survival instinct taking a new form, one of live sharing.

The environment expands our evolutionary behaviors, and even creates new ones. Live sharing is a second nature to us these days. When dealing with an ordinary situation, we interpret the constant impulse to be a part of a virtual network as a trend, a social condition that will soon be gone. But something in this notion cracks when we see the phenomenon of live sharing while facing death.

Live sharing has now become more than a social habit. It may have modified a primal instinct. We named this phenomenon 'Fight or Flight or Share': engage the danger to eliminate it, run away to a safe zone, or share it live with the online world. It's the way we are. We do not scream for help, we stream for it.

The world advances so fast that no research or articles were published on this matter yet. We too find it hard to imagine ourselves in a shooting scene, standing foot and streaming live. On the other hand, evidence is building up with each disaster and incident. We wonder what else will change, and what would the next evolutionary step might be.

links to two movies:
movie one, movie two