Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mob Mentality

One of the ideas I've been pondering on is how far we can take "mob mentality". Of course to some people, mob mentality automatically entails a negative connotation but for me personally, I'm using it as a neutral term (for good or for fill). Basically mob mentality is when a group of people act as one (usually getting carried away by a single emotion or idea). And while we have heard stories of the destructive side of mob mentality (riots, violence), the country's Edsa Revolution was probably the result of mob mentality (alas, Malacanang Palace was looted in the end, despite pleas not to).

Anyway, I don't think anyone is immune to mob mentality. It doesn't necessarily appeal to the logical side of humans but to their emotional side. There's a sense of belonging, of fitting in, of getting enraptured in the moment. Heck, isn't it why we have religion?

But moving on, how far can such a movement be taken? I mean if it's emotion-driven, one would think time and distance might alleviate the phenomenon. I mean when one member is isolated from "the mob", that individual tends to revert to thinking like an individual.

The Internet, however, has changed that assumption. Looking back at the recent Livejournal/Six Apart debacle, a lot of fandom circles formed this huge mob. Physically, they're scattered all over the world. Emotionally speaking however, thanks to the communication miracle of the Internet, they're connected. The importance of being connected isn't necessarily in the numbers game but the fact that they can reinforce the emotions that's flowing (in most cases, anger). One person flares up, another person flares up too. Or if the fires in one dies down, reading another person's anger post ignites his or her agitation once more.

Perhaps what's even more astounding is how long it can be sustained. When you're isolated from the rest of the world, it's easy to imagine sustaining a mob mentality indefinitely (cults work in a similar manner). However, the Internet isn't an isolated scenario. People go out to meet their friends, families, and work. And then they return to the Internet. Logic would dictate time spent away would cool their heads. But as I said, mob mentality isn't necessarily a function of logic but emotion.

2 comments:

Victor said...

YOu forgot to factor in the posts that seemingly espouse ignorant opinions on the matter, such as mine.

Needless to say, I still think the mob mentality made the groups with the least to stand to lose (fanfic groups rather than support groups) more vocal.

Of course, that's only based on my friendslist... so I expect that to be an assumption based on incomplete data.

Charles said...

It's not there mainly because I'm talking about mobs in general rather than a specific event.

Also in mob mentality, there's only two sides: either you're part of the mob, or you aren't.