I mentioned something in Social Studies today- mob mentality and herd immunity.

 

Now, I’m sure we all have a few examples on hand of forms we have witnessed or heard of of this topic. Things such as the Vancouver riot in 2011 after the Stanley Cup final game against Boston, or something we experience on a  daily basis- peer pressure. I have taken a look into the psychological side of mob mentality, and have found some effective ways of expressing and understanding the phenomenon that happens when people are, well, near each other.

 

Simply being part of group changes how people think and behave… a group of people may behave in ways that violate the moral standards of each individual in that group, often leading to destructive behavior and brutality… acting as part of a group can make individuals feel more anonymous and less responsible for their actions, both of which can promote aggression.

Crowds may also change what constitutes seemingly appropriate behavior (what psychologists call social proof): if everybody else is doing something, it seems more justified or correct. Alternatively, perpetrators may knowingly commit wrongdoing to seek the approval of those around them (what psychologists call normative social influence).

Courtesy of time.com

The way we react as individuals compared to that of groups of people is largely different. We may think that this is juvenile behaviour or ‘beyond us’, but this is a concept that we as a society drill into our youth from a very young age. ‘Make your own choices’, ‘Just because someone else does it, doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to do it,” and largely awkward lectures from our parents about the apparent inevitability of our turning to substance abuse because of encouragement from even our closest friends contribute to this. The fact is, it happens, no matter how old you are. Even the little decisions we make are influenced by the constant presence of other people.  In the Economist’s How Luther Went Viral, a similar concept is touched on. the article discusses the caution and discretion displayed by the citizens and their hesitance to express true opinions because of the fear of being isolated from their society is nobody else felt the same way. Sound familiar?

The need for acceptance from our society is a strong pull, and has been for a long time as seen from examples such as the one discussed above. This is, however, changing with the anonymity that is freely accessible with the rise of digital media. We see and hear of things that would be risky in our society to address directly with others being discussed namelessly, and in many cases accepted but at least a small public. This of course can be a positive or negative aspect of new technology.

 

Technology and the development of media are becoming more and more forward parts of our lives. My hope is with the new developments rushing past us, we won’t establish an indifference to the events around us. We as a society have to keep responsive and aware of our own choices, and not lose touch with the cause-effect of our actions.