Posts Tagged ‘incidents on college campuses


mob mentality: not just an american “disease”

Some great photo shots of the rioting in Vancouver last night at this site.

I commented thus:

People are stupid. And violent. And looking for an excuse to behave badly. In some weird way I’m comforted that it’s not just Americans who act like this, although I wish no one would.

They can’t really be expecting this to accomplish anything — it’s not like they can expect to turn the game around: “Oh, look! We broke that shop window and stole stuff that wasn’t ours, punched that guy in the face and set that car on fire, and now the score is 5-4!” They have to know this, somewhere in the backs of their addled little brains.

Wonder how it all looks in the morning when they realize their faces are on facebook and people are identifying them. Wonder if they realized beforehand that there is still a standing law that makes participating in a riot 30 minutes beyond when being asked to disperse is punishable by life in prison. Wonder if that would have made any difference.

Mob mentality is a scary thing. I’ve felt myself caught up in it a couple of times before, most specifically once in a religious/retreat setting which I now look back upon with something like horror (I had no idea I could be so easily brainwashed, suspending all things I knew to be logical and true about both the world and myself). I’ve also been around when the crowds have started swirling, both times on the Michigan State University college campus. Once was at the beginning of a much-publicized block party in the mid 1980s which the police were reputedly going to discourage, and a lot of people were threatening to go and “show them.” I stayed home. The other was more recent, I think in 1999 when the MSU basketball team lost to Duke, but when I look it up online there are a disturbing number of post-sports disturbances on the MSU campus. To the point, alas, that they warrant their own entry on Wikipedia. In any case, I was driving west alongside campus as more and more people were rushing out into the open spaces on campus and along the sidewalks. I couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

Besides mob mentality is a thing referred to as herd mentality, which describes how people are influenced by their peers in areas like fashion, music, etc. This urge to belong, combined with what might even be an instinctive sense that we have more power if we act together, can trigger us to act in ways which we would never act alone.

There was a video clip on the CBC this morning of a man hurling things at police — and not just pieces of trash, like many in the crowd were throwing, but the legs of barricades, heavy things, things that could hurt someone. And he’s standing there in front of them, arms outstretched, with a look of proud defiance on his face. A look which would be heroic if he were staring down tanks in Tiananmen Square, or the National Guard at Kent State. But he was looking at police who were showing great restraint, who were there to keep people from getting hurt, and who weren’t hurting him, even though he was posing a threat to them. So, wow, yeah, you really showed them. Asshole.

Anyway, apparently there have already been ~ 150 arrests. Many businesses are trying to clean up their messes; a lot of (innocent) people are going to be contributing to a lot of rebuilding via insurance payouts. We don’t really seem to learn anything, just keep making the same mistakes over and over and over and over. . .

And many consider us to be the most “advanced” species. Anybody ever see any wild animals tear up their own place of residence or set their modes of transportation on fire after other animals vaguely and remotely “related” to them lose in a sporting event?


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