mob mentality

“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? Think about it, it’s not merely political operatives from wherever influencing U.S. elections, it influences how we think it is o.k. to behave.

(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. (Mind you, I have sadly encountered a few exceptions.)

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. Or 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.

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 recently, 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. 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.

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, 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 and they had hurt feelings and they felt unwelcome in their community. I tried it 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. The comments are gone 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 to this man, if he is a real person. Instead I went to report the comments to the group admins. I was unable to do so 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 actually disparaging. 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 pop them in the face.

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. If you want to learn about this kind of behavior check out what Groupthink is, which was developed as a theory way before the onset of social media but is also germane to the conversation.

3 thoughts on “mob mentality

  1. Too bad there’s no requirement that–before joining FB or using any social media–users were required to read the info you post here. Isn’t it interesting that the advent of social media seems to have brought out more of that “mob mentality” rather than giving individuals a place to express their INDIVIDUAL opinions? It makes me fearful of what I have long suspected… Have Americans lost their independent spirit? And what about kindness, decency, and civility? Let’s hope that with the thought you offer here, social media will become the mirror people need to see themselves more clearly.

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