Tuesday, March 17, 2009

'Flash Mob' Phenomenon Ranges From Harmless Pranks to Public Mess

Via FoxNews -

Imagine leisurely walking through the middle of Grand Central train station in New York City and witnessing a mob hit.

But this is no ordinary mob — and no ordinary "hit."

A large group of people appears suddenly in the middle of the terminal, freezes in mid-motion and, after several motionless minutes, unfreezes and nonchalantly carries on with the day’s business -- as if nothing unusual happened.

It may sound odd, but a group of more than 200 people pulled off such a stunt in January, part of a phenomenon known as a "flash mob" that often succeeds in confusing people who aren't in on the act.

Such flash mobs form through mass text messages, Facebook networks, e-mails and Web sites. Web sites, such as Flashmobaustin.com, are solely dedicated to this mission, billed as "one spontaneous event at a time."

Although many mobs pull harmless pranks, such as shopping in slow motion at a store, others can get nasty and leave a messy mob scene behind.

In San Francisco, the annualmob public pillow fight last Valentine’s Day left a wet mix of feathers on buildings, gutters and cars. City workers were left to clean up thousands of dollars worth of damage, and city officials are considering new regulations.

Mob "agents" could be required to obtain a permit and pay for usage of the event location before it takes place, threatening the very spontaneity and anarchic flavor that define the mobs. And the organizers may be responsible for providing security and portable toilets for the event.

It often is hard even to locate the organizers of such events, but many pasts "hits" that have occurred across the United States also have become hits on YouTube.


I love the idea of flash mob events and public social experiments...but I personally feel that organizers should work hard to minimize damage (clean up cost, etc) or disruption to the general public.

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