This article is about a popular phrase. For Wikipedia's attitude towards lackadaisical ethos, see WP:SEP. For the sociopsychological phenomenon, see diffusion of responsibility.
"Somebody else's problem" (also "someone else's problem") is a phrase used to describe an issue which is dismissed by a person on the grounds that they consider somebody else to be responsible for it. The term is also used to refer to a factor that is "out of scope" in a particular context.[failed verification]
An SEP is something we can't see, or don't see, or our brain doesn't let us see, because we think that it's somebody else's problem. That’s what SEP means. Somebody Else’s Problem. The brain just edits it out, it's like a blind spot.
The narration then explains:
The Somebody Else's Problem field... relies on people's natural predisposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain. If Effrafax had painted the mountain pink and erected a cheap and simple Somebody Else’s Problem field on it, then people would have walked past the mountain, round it, even over it, and simply never have noticed that the thing was there.
References by others
A 1976 edition of the journal Ekistics highlighted the phrase in noting that "One major obstacle to effective bureaucratic action on housing can be called the principle of somebody else's problem."
Referring to a team working on a computer programming project, Alan F. Blackwell wrote in 1997 that: "Many sub-goals can be deferred to the degree that they become what is known amongst professional programmers as an 'S.E.P.' – somebody else's problem."
Christopher Negus, writing on the origin of Unix at Bell Labs in the 1970s, described Bell Labs at the time as "a think tank where ideas came first and profits were somebody else's problem".[original research?]