Perhaps you have come across the term “work culture,” an indelible feature of capitalism and one of which pivots itself in American society. Staying too true to the work culture may be causing a change in yourself you did not quite register yet in your mind.
This past December 13, a rage- fueled act of hate ensued on New York City’s D train. During the racist tirade, 40- year -old Anna Lushchinskaya took to assaulting a 24 –year- old passenger. After one straphanger—who removed the remnants of the umbrella Lushchinskaya was using as a weapon—urged her to call the cops, another straphanger could be heard on video saying, “Actually don’t because you gon’ make us all late for work, bi—”.
This incident points out how work culture has produced itself so highly in our society that even in the face of indignities, most would rather avoid the police intervening in the crime for the sake of getting to work on time.
That is not to say the passengers on the train do not care about the individual being harmed but in reference to their paychecks, they would rather not take one for the team. This is due to several reasons. Most notable, though, is that people cannot risk making it to work late with an excuse for their boss. The old tale of “I was having problems with the subway,” loses its authenticity the more it’s said—even if it is true.
The video itself of Lushchinskaya displays behavior all so typical of New York City straphangers in the digital age. Most are quiet and watch on for what is a few minutes rather than deescalating the scenario playing out. Others sit there capturing footage. It is not until minutes in does anyone yell at Lushchinskaya and begin to break her away from kicking and lunging toward the female victim.
The bystander effect, as it plays out on this train, was in full execution. People do not find the need to intervene themselves because they hold the belief that another person nearby will. This assumption carries into a waiting game where worried faces stare blankly at each other knowing right from wrong but not possessing the will power to call 911 or jump in to assist.
Unfortunately, there are so many other instances like this in the New York City subway system. Hate crimes and other bias-based offenses have taken a serious turn for the worse, though the NYPD reports that overall crime in the city is the lowest it has ever been.
In our digital age, we see people pull out their cellphones to record the action versus offering a helping hand. Oftentimes, we judge those who commit to this action and yet we watch their videos online. While opting to record the crime is frowned upon by many, in the broader scope these videos serve as the evidence police can use and the proof us as citizens need to see to commit to change.
Most people, but especially in metropolitan areas, do not want to get involved. Work culture certainly takes a priority where it is more significant to make a dollar than it is to help a person in need. Ultimately, though, this is all desensitizing us to the human experience.