Estrangement is a distancing from others with whom one might be expected to feel a relationship, such as family members or those in need. There is an increasing trend for bystanders to remain uninvolved in the event of some accident or emergency rather than help someone in trouble, particularly when other people are present. In part this is in order to avoid being drawn into complicated procedures whereby those assisting may be required to give evidence as witnesses (in the case of witnessed theft), in part in order to avoid physical danger (in the case of attack), and in part to avoid the risk of being sued for responsibility (in the case of assisting a wounded person prior to treatment in hospital).
To some extent, this problem may be due to the increasing tendency for people to live 'independent', lives essentially estranged from their neighbours and all but very close friends. The media, television, newspapers and popular magazines play up, play upon and seek out the spectacular, the violent, the sensational, the sadistic, the horrible tragedies of modern life as a means of capturing and controlling the attention, using vastly overstimulating visual, auditory and verbal communications. Overstimulation tends to dull responsiveness, particularly when exposed to it hour after hour on a television set. One tends to be left in the position or role of vicarious spectator, without a sense of responsibility or humanitarian involvement. Indeed, this could even contribute to the sense of apathy related to the potential for nuclear war.