“Herd mentality and mob mentality, also lesser known as gang mentality, describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational, basis.”
Mob mentality is actually a real thing. And I think social media takes it to new and even more unpleasant levels.
I read the other day a most interesting piece from 2015:
What is mob mentality? Also known as herd mentality, it “describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items… Social psychologists study the related topics of group intelligence, crowd wisdom, and decentralized decision making” …..What are some of the best ways to combat mob mentality? Forbes.com has come out with a well-written article on how one should combat mob mentality. They suggest the following: 1. Stop being on autopilot. 2. Make a conscious effort to form your own opinion. 3. Take time to make decisions. 4. Be aware in which way stress affects your decisions making. 5. Be willing to stand out. All of these steps require the individual to forsake being lazy with ones own character. It requires self-evaluation and time to make decisions in ones own life. It requires self-fortitude in ones own opinions, and accepting the fact that, while some birds may chirp louder than the others, that doesn’t mean that they are good leaders.
It really makes you think about social media doesn’t it? It’s not merely political operatives from wherever influencing U.S. elections, it influences how we think it is o.k. to behave in a more localized manner.
(And yes, please DO read the Forbes.com article.)
We all look at Facebook from time to time and marvel at what people will post on their own pages, and in community groups. A woman posting a screen shot of a car title was a recent shake your head moment. We live in an age of identity theft, so why would you post things that would give hackers an edge?
Facebook community groups are one of the best places to see what mob mentality can do. Especially in the “closed” groups. People think they can say what they want, behave how they want. In this virtual setting of life they often say things and behave in ways you would never see in person, in real human time.
In these groups, in theory, you should be able to form an individual thought or perspective. But most of the time you can’t. Vox populi aren’t really comfortable. Safe topics are like what’s on sale at Target, sadly. Other safe topics include crowdsourcing what you are going to wear somewhere or where the best mani-pedi is.
It is utterly astounding to me the long list of often quite ordinary and mundane things you can’t discuss. And like Alice down the rabbit hole I discovered that this week and it was “off with her head” for me.
I posted about the cause and effect of too much development. I prefaced my comments with the fact that I was not targeting any new development in particular, these were generalist comments. About the process, or should I say what I feel to be a lack of equatable process involving and incorporating how the existing residents of an area feel.
Too much development affects school districts. School districts and municipalities are autonomous from each other, yet they are interconnected because development that municipalities approve has a direct impact on school districts.
In Lower Merion Township this week, residents of that township and supporters of open space, land conservation, Stoneleigh a Natural Lands property as well as the non-profit Natural Lands attended a school board meeting en masse. Why? Because Lower Merion School District seems to think that protected, conserved, and preserved land should be theirs like a plumb for the picking via eminent domain or other intimidation measures (listen here on YouTube.)
This school district has never opened its mouth to at home township expressing any kind of even concern over development and how it affects their school district. But now they think the former Haas property Stoneleigh should be theirs for the taking so instead of finding solutions on property they already own to address enrollment, they think it’s ok to just steal land and build more.
The outcome of this scenario will have a ripple effect in a lot of places. It will make people think twice before they donate land to land conservancies and I think that’s criminal.
So what is going on in Lower Merion should be a cautionary tale to those of us in Chester County because we are dealing with so much development from municipality to municipality and school district to school district…. especially those of us who are in either Great Valley or Tredyffrin Easttown or Downingtown as far as a school districts go.
I am not being mean, I am not singling out individual development dwellers, it is the cause and effect of development. It is my opinion, and it happens to be the truth.
Long after developers have built their projects, made their money, and walked away there are things to be considered, that are not necessarily positive. Municipalities care about the short time high of ratables filling their coffers. In my opinion the majority of development today in reality has very little to do with the surrounding community, and existing community members. Especially in process.
The planning process in my opinion is tragically flawed. We go to meetings and we look at plans for new development. They are never in real time they are always shown on these big boards with lots of green space around them, like they are placed in the middle of fields. Only for the most part it’s infill development these days and there is nothing in true context of what’s surrounding it. And that includes proximity and style. And when they’re building big tall buildings, human scale is thrown out the window.
Seemingly gone are the days of thoughtful planned developments. Those are the developments that have nice lots including trees. These developments meld with their surroundings and not every square inch of the building envelopes are crammed with structures. Planned developments take into consideration the affects a development will have on the infrastructure, first responders, township services where they are being built, and most importantly won’t overwhelm school districts.
Where I posted this then erupted like a volcano of indignation. It started with people living in some of these new developments I am not particularly fond of rolling up and saying how I had insulted them personally and they had hurt feelings and they felt unwelcome in their community. (Somewhere Joan Rivers is saying “oh grow up.)
I tried at first and explain to them it wasn’t about them, it’s not about them as individuals. It’s about the process and what our local municipalities are allowing to happen to where we call home.
I am not anti-progress. But the process is flawed and there is no moderation seemingly ever when it comes to development. It’s all about how much you can shove into every square inch and that’s not even attractive in other than a truly urban setting. I am completely unapologetic that I have this opinion. Chester county is been ransacked by development. And we have to stop and think about it sorry not sorry.
Realizing that mob mentality was revving up, I turned off the comments on my post and walked away from the group where it was posted. I thought maybe it would calm down. Instead, the following morning I am receiving messages, texts and even phone calls from people asking me if I saw what was being said.
I went back to look and was somewhat shocked. First of all the comments on the post I wrote were no longer turned off. Then the comments had moved from essentially a difference of opinion for me, to flat out maligning and tar and feathering. I was now wearing a virtual scarlet letter.
There were a couple of comments in particular, I felt crossed the line. But I did not respond. Instead I went to report the comments to the group admins. (that is theoretically what you are supposed to do instead of turning it into a flame war.) I was unable to report the comments because my membership had been frozen for lack of a better description. All I could do was watch the comments mount.
Off with her head!
This one man in particular was awful. I have ZERO clue who he even is. He couldn’t just have an opinion, he had to verbally try to beat me into submission on some level. I found it to be akin to slut shaming. Because this is something he would never say to another man because another man would probably deck him.
The action of slut-shaming can be considered to be a form of social punishment and is an aspect of sexism. THAT is why I chose the term. (You see, my use of the term in particular, started a whole other realm of comments.)￼ Experts say slut- shaming which has occurred on Facebook occurs in controversial exchanges between users that have resulted in convictions to menace, harass and cause offense.
So while I am not literally being a slut shamed in a sexual sense, I am in a philosophical sense for my opinions.￼
Back to the page where I was being virtually tarred and feathered on. As I could not simply report the comments of this man I had never met whose job as an engineer at a local company should have meant he did not have time for social media at work, I contacted the page owner and creator (who is also an admin.) This was someone who is no stranger to me, has known me a few years, and who has been a guest in my home.
In my opinion, sadly, the conversation wasn’t rational. It ended in she decided instead of removing comments or essentially telling people mob mentality wasn’t a path to success, she decided to remove me. She also told me she was unfriending me personally but we could still be regular friends. Truthfully, this all hurt me so much, I don’t know that it’s possible. I do not want to be that person, truly I don’t, but trust and faith in people are a big thing to me.
The point of this post is NOT to deride this woman for her decision. Being an admin of one of these community groups is a combination of adult baby sitting and policing. A lot of the time, it is NOT fun because of….wait for it….mob mentality.
This woman in order to keep things above board and open (which I respect), posted her decision. She asked people to be respectful. But what happened next was a pile on to rock the ages. Dozens of comments, a lot of them truly malicious. Towards me. It was somewhat incredulous. Especially since most of them do not know me at all. But there is that age old and tired mentality of women should be seen and not heard, much like children, right? And I know I am not quiet. But does that make the behavior right?
There was another comment from the guy who started it all about her “making his week.” That comment was liked by people who were actually Facebook friends of mine and they left comments of their own. While I respect their need for their opinion, did they really think I would not see their comments or hear about them? I have decided to let them go. Life is short, so fill it with people who are fair to you, not those who will smile to your face and be a bit different behind your back. A true lesson about who you let into even your virtual world. Sadly.
Another long and overly verbose comment came from a woman who runs another community group and works now for a financial services giant. She also holds an appointed slot in a municipality on a committee. I have always wondered if it was a conflict to hold an appointed position in a municipality and run a large community group, but even more glaring to me is she is employed by a financial services company so is she aware how they are about employees behaving in a certain manner on social media? Seriously. When you work in a regulated space, they actually keep an eye on that because regulators do.
These comments went on and on and on. Other comments included someone I vaguely knew from high school and was friends with for a few years as an adult. I chose to let her go about a year ago because she just wasn’t my cup of tea. So up she rolled to comment and try to spill the tea. A real “people in glass houses” scenario, but it makes her feel better about herself and as a perennial outsider, she feels included. Even with strangers.
Found this on Twitter on the feed of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Erika Jane and it made me giggle…because it’s true
This is the mob mentality effect on social media. The irony is that these are people who will rail against bullying in schools, bullying against children, and more. Yet they do not see the problem with their own behavior. They don’t see this is what kids will often emulate.
It’s not just opinion. They take to being keyboard tigers. Another example recently was on a community page where they were discussing a tragic murder suicide which happened recently on the Main Line.
The comments were going back and forth. All of a sudden pops up this woman saying if the murdered woman hadn’t started seeing the suicide victim’s estranged husband, nothing would have happened. Ok look, we have zero clue about their marriages, and more importantly, the punishment should be murdering a romantic rival? How is that ok? Sure you might say “I want to kill her” but normal people don’t act on impulses like that, do they???
Or in parenting forums. That is another best place for mob mentality. The admins of those groups must need a stiff drink some days. You have never seen people turn on one and other until you have seen a bunch of parents turn on other parents because maybe their opinion is different. Not bad. Not illegal. Not immoral. Just different. And they rise up over the dumbest topics possible.
It seems on social media, in groups, individuality terrifies people. If your opinion deviates from even what the pack is comfortable with, it is a very bad thing. Is it just an extension of the dumbing down of America, I wonder?
Sometimes I think it is. I also think it is ridiculous. You can disagree with someone and have a different opinion. It’s not illegal. But a lot of these folks are what a friend of mine refers to as “sheeple.”
Sheeple are incapable of their own thoughts. They follow along and do as they are told. Now if that is how they live, how they choose to live, that is fine. But please leave the knives and pitchforks at home. Sheep are supposed to be peaceful creatures, after all.
None of us are perfect. I certainly don’t pretend to be. Social media is a weird place to be sure at times. It can do so much good, but it can also cause harm.
I will close with an excerpt of an article from 2012 and Northwestern University’s Helix magazine:
THE DEVIL IN ALL OF US: MOB MENTALITY
By: Sarah Moore
Jun 25, 2012
No one’s about to claim that the Holocaust was a good idea. Or that gang rapes are advisable. Or even that bar fights are predicated on anything but group idiocy. Trampling people in evacuations and running them over in Wal-Mart sprees just isn’t cool, no matter what. Yet this stuff happens more often than it should…We most commonly associate mob mentality, or herd mentality as it is sometimes called, with violence and assault. But for some reason I really didn’t think that could be the whole story; after all, behaviors that pervade entire species are rarely maladaptive.
So I did some research, and found that herd mentality is hardwired into all of us. One study, conducted by Professor Jens Krause at the University of Leeds, found that it only takes 5 percent of a crowd to influence the other 95 percent in a specific direction. More specifically, researchers asked 200 people to mill around in a hall, then gave 10 of them directions on where to walk. The rest eventually fell into line.
Sociologically and psychologically, mob or herd mentality is a fascinating topic. And it has traveled through the annals of time and history. Like the Salem Witch Trials in Puritan New England.
Life is meant to be lived and celebrated. I would have thought we were beyond this mentality, but social media just brings it out, apparently.
Enjoy the sunshine, people. Life is short. In 8 days I celebrate 7 years of being breast cancer free. To me, that is important.
Thanks for stopping by today and for considering what I have said.