Friday, May 9, 2014

Are You Not Entertained?

We like
to do nothing.

For a moment
he found himself
looking up from the tracks

at scores of faces watching them.

“Some people were
snapping photos
or taking video with their cell phones,”
he said.

“It was amazing
seeing all these people

doing nothing,” he said.

“It was
an eye-opener.”

And we answer:

we like
to do nothing

snap photos
for Facebook and Instagram,
stand and observe—comment

on the misfortunes
of others
and how
the world
is so wrong.

But never
get our hands dirty

while she tumbles
head first
from the platform

we’re all
preaching from.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

Italicized words are from the news article by Murray Weiss in DNAinfo New York:  Humble Hero Saves Teen Who Fell Onto Subway Tracks.

Title is a quote from the film Gladiator.


  1. it is scary that people stand around and take pics and videos and only one person moves to help her... what a weird world this is... it makes me so sad... luckily this guy had the guts to help...

  2. Ouch! That is hard to believe on one level - and yet somehow not surprising. Life through the smartphone screen/camera lense, always one step removed, always non-implicated. Brainwashing at its best. Excellent (and well controlled) indignation in this poem.

  3. amen sister. you can preach that....smiles...everyone has an opinion or a position but not that many want to actually do something about it...they would rather someone else...or to stand there in the after and say i told you so....smiles....nice bit of social commentary in this...

    1. Thanks got the point I was trying to make!

  4. Oh what a powerful write this is, Jennifer. So very sad when people flash photos rather than helping. I've heard of things like this happening. What has happened to humanity?

  5. Very powerful poem, Jennifer! This is terrifying when people who could probably help, stand and do not do nothing - as they prefer to think - but think of Facebook and Instagram rather than of the tragedy being played in front of their very eyes.

  6. I couldn't see anything more terrifying.. and being active observers like that.. sometimes there is an urgency to help... but imagine all the likes they would get... scary..

  7. What a story! And what a rather shocking (and well penned) articulation of present day dispassionate apathy – when so many people can look on do nothing: locked in their own little world of cameras and phones.

  8. I read the backgrounder and am just shocked that people do nothing to save the girl ~ I am riding the subway train everyday so I know how this can be so terrifying ~ Preach but not dirty our hands, that's a shame ~

  9. Profound and powerful, Jennifer.

  10. we have reached the selfie age and infected with this social malady...however it's heartening to find a soul to keep the hope of life this strong voice...

  11. Oh this was scary... standing around doing nothing.. I have been the one to click pictures of Facebook, Instagram.. i hope to God i never make the mistake of not being observant enough to see someone needs my help.. this was powerful.. definitely terrifying...

  12. it's a world where we clap for ourselves, isn't it?

  13. Oh, the irony of this. Let us converse instead of staring into little screens!

  14. Even snapping pics and posting to FB, seems like a work to new generation these days!!

  15. scary really. it's one thing to be stuck like a deer in headlights, uncertain what to do and hoping instincts will kick in quickly. it's another to consciously do nothing while recording the moment. very well written.

  16. Thank you everyone...I appreciate your time in coming 'round and leaving your lovely comments. You make the blogosphere a fun and encouraging place!

  17. Excellent close and how true we judge from a safe distance...
    Anna :o]


Thank you for your thoughts!