Thursday

October 22nd, 2020

Insight

These days, the masses are barely even asses

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Sept. 6, 2019

These days, the masses are barely even asses
The stampede to get a Popeye's chicken sandwich is but the latest example of how social media can be used to push tens of thousands, (maybe millions) of easily led people into a frenzy over something.

This modern phenomenon is disturbing if you think about it. Why is it disturbing, you might ask? After all, it's only a chicken sandwich.

And while it's true that a chicken sandwich is a pretty benign thing, the fact that social media can manipulate a mob into action is not.

We've seen what "going viral" on social media produces. Someone doesn't like the politics of a certain senator, or congressman, or even a private citizen and that someone posts their name and address on line and encourages people to gather at their home with bullhorns and scream all night.

That's all it takes to assemble hundreds, or maybe thousands, of like-minded idiots who have nothing better to do than terrorize an entire family.

Social media political morons have gotten groups together in a matter of minutes when they happen to see someone they don't care for having dinner, or going out for a drink.

Walking into the establishment, the mob aggressively surrounds the table ranting and raving in their face, until the innocent person is chased out with his or her family. We've seen these disgusting displays time and again posted on YouTube or shown on cable news.

What's surprising to me is that there hasn't been anyone physically hurt yet.

Maybe part of the reason that violence hasn't broken out might be because the social media mob zombies tend to be the radical left picking on conservative victims.

The conservatives are generally not prone to violence, but that won't last forever. All it takes is one of those jerks to get too close to the targeted victim's child or push his wife around for the victim to finally strike back.

For a perfect example of how fast and dangerous social media mobs can get, all you need to remember is the so-called "Arab Spring" which spread across North Africa and the Middle East in the early 2010s. The media hailed it as a wonderful blossoming of Arab freedom as the crowds swelled into the public squares and stormed the existing regimes.

People began gathering and rioting in response to oppressive governments and people's low standard of living, and while it might have happened even without social media, the Internet undeniably accelerated the pace of it and the amount of crowds it drew.

Beginning in Tunisia, the revolutions spread strongly to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, where either the regime was toppled or major uprisings and social violence occurred, including riots, civil wars or insurgencies.

Sustained street demonstrations seemed to break out all over. Major uprisings took place in Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan. Minor protests occurred in Djibouti, Mauritania, the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Arabia, and the Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara.

Most of the demonstrations were winding down by mid-2012 leaving power vacuums, internal conflicts and civil wars, many of which continue to this day. In the end, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands were killed and more than six million displaced. After all that, not much has improved for the people in most of these nations.

Social media is a tool to connect with people around the world and build relationships and exchange ideas. In theory it might lead a group of eminent cancer researchers to communicate with one another quickly in the development of cures and treatments, which will help mankind.

In practice, social media has been used mostly by young people with too much time on their hands to connect with other young people with too much time on their hands. And beyond just troublemakers, social media is an easy way for sociopaths and various other nut jobs to find each other and gather.

Marketers, ad agencies, and political spinmeisters know the impact of rumor mills fueled by social media when it comes to propagandizing, promoting, and hyping their products and candidates. Getting people fired up and in the mood for a chicken sandwich is one thing. Getting people riled up and ready to mob is quite another.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's been a JWR contributor since 1999.

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