Words and Images Affect How We Think

Dear Engaged Bystander: Images and words speak volumes about how people think and feel about an issue. Think about when we use the word bystander -- we usually describe that person as an "Innocent Bystander". We never hear the phrase "He/she was a Guilty Bystander."

Great quote by Karen Hall about this topic: "The language we use shapes the way we think. We cannot change our attitudes and actions until we change our words." There is some recent research which supports the fact that "people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world". Here is a link to that research by Lera Boroditsky.

So I was curious to see what kind of images come up when you search for the word bystander. I was surprised to see so many cartoons. A police officer saying "I don't want to get involved" and a job interview asking "Do you have any experience as anything other than being an innocent bystander?" And the photos that I found were striking and disturbing.

Given the stark images of the bystander, I wonder when and how this term got coined? If you look for older images, the term clearly had other meanings. Here is the cover of a magazine called, "The Bystander".

The images for the engaged bystander were simply not there. I will keep looking and would welcome any thoughts, suggestions and images for/from you, the engaged bystander. The bystander activist. Or in this cartoon, the "Innocent Bystander Liberation Front"?

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Submitted by kimberlyjones on
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