Mindfulness

What is Mob Mentality?

“No thoughts of my own.” This should be enough summarization of what is mob mentality. But there is more to this commonly observed pattern. It is important to dive in so that you do not adopt this way of thinking.

This world of different people and they can be categorized into primarily 4 different categories: the leaders, the followers, the innovators, and the observers. The followers operate with a mob mentality, usually.

1. What is Mob Mentality? 

what is mob mentality
By Timon Studler / Unsplash copyrights 2016

Most human beings tend to follow a group equivalent to sheep in a herd or bees in a hive. Humans ignore their individuality in certain situations and wait to follow only when someone takes the lead(a leader) or creates or does something new (an innovator).

This behavior is also seen in a herd where the sheep follow the shepherd and in a hive where the male bees exist solely to look after the queen.

Adopting the attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors of others seem safe and known when in a group. This is why the popular girl trope is idolized in movies, where all the “average” girls want to be the popular girl or be her friend.

You might have seen that people join in to help a passerby only after someone extends his assistance first.

Even in the past, when humans were hunters and gatherers, they existed in a group. Standing out made them more noticeable to predators. It seems that evolution has not taken away this trait.

2. What Causes Herd Behavior?

To understand mob mentality, it is important to know what causes it in the first place.

2.1. A Sense of Belonging

It is in human nature to find a sense of home or belonging. Not even the cool teenagers who use the idea “alone is cool” can deny that no one wants to be alone, always, honestly speaking. Humans are not meant to drift throughout their lives without company.

Thus, in order to fit in and feel a part of a group, individuals adopt the mob mentality and operate from this place.

2.2. Loss of Individuality

In today’s virtually stimulated world, many people have lost touch with reality and themselves. Many people hardly know their own likes, dislikes, triggers, and areas of interest.

This lack of self-awareness creates a huge potential to tend toward herd behavior. These individuals adopt the likes and dislikes of others as their own because they hardly know themselves.

2.3. Bonding Over Emotions

Riots and protests are based on mob mentality that is a result of extreme hostility or passion.

Even a candlelight vigil which is a gathering of people to honor the memories of a deceased loved one, is founded on mob mentality. People can even bond over hatred and cause wars.

2.4. Logic Lays Dormant

In most cases, people with mob mentality don’t operate from a place of logic and reason. They do something just because others are doing it.

They don’t wait to question or doubt what they are doing or if they really want to do it or not. Driven with emotions, logic takes a backseat, or in many cases, it is not in the vehicle.

2.5. Fear of Unknown

Overthinking is trendy. On a serious note, fearing future possibilities and fearing what could happen that they do not know of, people of mob mentality, choose the safe way to blend in and follow the crowd.

It is easier, safe, and known, according to them.

2.6. Anonymity or a Lack of Accountability

what is mob mentality
By Tarik Haiga / Unsplash copyrights 2020

Blending in the crowd and working with a mob mentality ensures that the individual does not stand out. Remaining anonymous gives a false sense of freedom in the fact that there is no need to take responsibility.

Getting punished in a group seems to be a preferable option. This is why a student would laugh if thrown out of the class with their friends. But they would be silent if punished individually.

3. Contagion Theory (Crowd Frenzy)

In today’s overly connected world (digitally connected), individuals have adopted crowd behaviors, even online. Internet users hate and praise celebrities based on mass opinion.

This is based on the idea that people are brought together by their shared beliefs, validations, and assurances.

The contagion theory studies the contagious influence of crowds on individuals in a detailed manner. This theory claims that this collective behavior is emotional and irrational.

4. Real-Life Instances of Mob Mentality

4.1. The Salem Witch Trials

Colonial Massachusetts witnessed the false accusations and prosecutions of innocent women in the name of executing witches. This was called the Salem Witch Trials. This cruel era of witch-hunting lasted for centuries with thousands of executions.

4.2. The Crusades

The Crusades originated from a collective belief that it was God’s wish to convert everyone to Christianity. This herd behavior manifested in the form of forcible and brutal conversions, by looting villages and abusing others. They were religious wars in the name of Christian campaigns.

4.3. New York Blackout of 1977

After the shutdown of the electrical system due to technical failures, there was large-scale vandalism and looting, especially in Brooklyn. It was difficult to maintain legal order as the mob mentality operated from a wild sense of delinquency and lawlessness, known as the New York Blackout.

4.4. The Red Scare, Mid-20th Century

The Red Scare was a hunt for any communist or socialist that spread through the democratic society. Without a fair trial or evidence, the accused was punished. What a perfect example of democracy! “Abide by our ideologies or get persecuted”. Sounds similar to the Salem Witch Trials, doesn’t it?

4.5. Travis Scott’s Astroworld Concert 

How the Travis Scott Astroworld festival tragedy unfolded

 

A fun-filled day turned into a horrible nightmare for those who attended the American Rapper, Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert on November 5, 2021.

Around 8 to 10 people lost their lives as the crowd crushed and suffocated the concert-goers. Many were hospitalized and heavily injured. 

5. Final Words

what is mob mentality
By Chetan Menaria / Unsplash copyrights 2014

This does not mean that adopting a mob mentality is the only option. Using your own discernment is necessary in every situation. There is nothing wrong with being a follower.

But you should be able to decide wisely when and where to be a follower. Remember your own discernment, the time and place determine the leader, follower, innovator, or observer in you.

Wild and free in imagination, Soujanee looks forward to creating. She believes that researching the topic is an interesting way to boost one's knowledge. Then, critically thinking about the topic is not only mentally stimulating but also proper use…

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