Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


  • --Any large group of people can become a mob. The difference between a crowd and a mob is how unruly they are. Mobs actually can be celebratory, and some people are strangely drawn toward happy mobs. But not all mobs are angry or happy-- some are just persons simultaneously focused on a goal. There's a reason that schools conduct fire drills; if you don't put order to an evacuation (that crowd's goal), then even a bunch of kids can become a mob, and people get hurt or die.
  • --The masses of shoppers flocking on store deals? They arrive as individuals, but often become a mob, if there's not some sense of order imposed.  Despite some effort to control them, some people get hurt.
  • --Often a mob will then turn on those who try to control it. That makes life difficult and indeed often dangerous for those who are charged with establishing order among the mob's constituents. This has direct ramifications on the safety of individuals within the mob.
  • --To counter such situations, often the people attempting to keep order with large groups will use a show of force, to either turn the mob, or keep the group of people from becoming a mob*.
  • --Such shows of force are often criticized by:
  • A: Rabble-rousers within the mob,
  • B: People who do not know what they are talking about,
  • C: People who see an opportunity to get on the news
  • D: All of the above.
  • --When a person joins a mob, he or she temporarily loses his individuality and personal identity. As such, he or she quite often drops his or her sense of right or wrong.  Peoples in mobs will destroy, attack, and even kill without the sense of individual consequence that most people would feel, taken alone.**
  • --Some people like to take advantage of this, and utilize mobs toward their own ends. Anytime that you go to a political rally and someone starts up a chanting cheer that is taken up by the crowd, you're seeing a crowd of people giving up their individuality.  This is not to say that rallies are always (or even usually) mobs-- let's not forget that orderliness aspect of the mob.
  • --People like to join such crowds, sometimes, because it feels good to be taken in as "one of them." People say all the time of such rallies, "I liked feeling like I was a part of something."  That need drives people more than you'd think.
  • --Thus, I'm not a fan of big crowds. I'm not saying that nothing good ever happens from them. (Because something good can come from them.) But I myself tend to give them a wide berth.
*The best way to deal with a mob is to predict where they will form, and either impose enough order that they cannot become an effective mob, or to plan to have enough people on hand to disperse them when they form.

**While working security at large events like college football games, I have often politely insisted that attendees remove masks that they have worn to such events. Some variations of these have become quite popular. My reasoning is that crowds create enough loss of individual accountability as it is, without having the second behavior modifyer of a mask thrown in, too. Wish to wear a mask?  Not a problem-- just do it outside, please.

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    At Saturday, November 26, 2011 2:16:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

    Very well thought out and briefed Matt, just one more reason I shop from the computer... sigh

    At Saturday, November 26, 2011 6:03:00 PM, Blogger TBeck said...

    And when a mob ignores a lawful order to leave and becomes a mob full of trespassers, they lose the moral authority to bitch about the use of OC to disperse them.

    At Sunday, November 27, 2011 5:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Sounds like someone has studied collective behavior here...

    Last year, my husband decided to brave Black Friday. I told him my happy arse was staying in bed.

    Seriously, people. They're just THINGS.

    At Monday, November 28, 2011 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Mikael said...

    I've seen video of a protest against the church of scientology, by anonymous(with those masks), fun watching, and very well behaved crowd. (Eye witness reports police visibly relaxing when they understand what's going on. "The internets are here".) We're talking rick rolling and lolcat banners.

    At Thursday, December 01, 2011 7:05:00 PM, Blogger TOTWTYTR said...

    --Thus, I'm not a fan of big crowds. I'm not saying that nothing good ever happens from them. (Because something good can come from them.) But I myself tend to give them a wide berth.

    Me too. It's not just, as some people have suggested, that I'm anti social.

    Friendly crowds can turn into unfriendly mobs quickly, with little warning.

    I've worked enough large scale events to want nothing to do with large scale crowds when I'm not working.

    At Thursday, December 01, 2011 7:51:00 PM, Blogger Justthisguy said...

    This reminds me of how I heard about the Kent State Massacre. Our AFROTC class was sitting there in the basement of the Knowles Building when somebody yelled "Tenn-Hut!" as Cap'n Pollard walked in. After telling us to siddown, he asked us what we thought about the event. Most of us, being nerds at an engineering school, just went "Huh?"

    He got all over us about that, berating us for being nerdy techish people who didn't care about what was going on in the wider society.

    Then he told about his experience as a member of a mob, when young. Governor Talmadge was (arguably illegally) "occupying" the GA governor's office back in '48, so a bunch of GA Tech students, Pollard among them, walked down to the Capitol to protest. Well, they got all worked up emotionally and somebody said "Boo!" or something.

    Panic ensued, and all ran away. Captain Pollard said that he had no recollection of anything between starting to run and finding himself back near The Varsity, on North Avenue.

    He advised us that if we saw a mob/riot starting to develop, to leave immediately, as nothing good could come of such.

    At Sunday, December 04, 2011 8:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Last night's (Dec 3) OU-OSU game was a beautiful example of part of your post. Huge number of happy (partly buzzed) people surge onto a confined flat space and 45 minutes later at least 13 people are in, or on their way to, a hospital. And I wager a larger number are swearing off crowds forever.

    I wasn't in a mob but I learned exactly how trampling and panics start when I was in Vienna a few years ago, trying to leave the cathedral on a feast day. I made the mistake and left by the main door, along with everyone else, as a large number of people tried to come in. It got very, very nervous for a minute or so until enough space opened up for the out-goers to leave and start clearing the entrance. The next day after mass I left by the side.



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