I was watching a TV show on how groups of strangers come together to become a riotous mob. What I saw was clearly an altered state of group consciousness.
"None of us is dumber than all of us." - Anonymous
Being the deviant thinker that I am I immediately asked "How could this mob mentality be used and exploited?"
The first step is to do an analysis of the dynamic.
The members of the mob share one thing in common.
Of these you can see that some of it comes about from having a common enemy.
* Anger over a vetoed bill
* Soccer fan angry at an opposing team
But others have more benevolent common factors
* a vacation beach
* a victory rally for their local sports team
* the start of a peaceful demonstration
For the individual participants who become "the mob" and operate outside of their normal behaviors there are some common qualities that can be isolated.
* They have an opportunity to freely express their most base emotions while being protected by the anonymity of "the crowd".
* A very small group (sometimes only one person) of these most active participants tend to elicit participation from others.
* Alcohol is often a factor further loosening inhibitions that turn someone over to mob control.
Another factor to consider is that counter measures to control the mob (Riot police banging night sticks against Plexiglas shields, for example) often bring about an escalation in mob violence. This is especially true when the police represent the oppressive government the group is protesting against.
This is of course just a hypothetical conjecture but how could one use these factors to create a mob that would do what you wanted?
First the outcome should be clearly stated. Because mob mentality is almost the level of an idiot one must set the bar pretty low and make clear simple tasks that one would only do behind the cover of anonymity. These don't have to be malicious acts but malicious act are easier to create.
The Steps for Mob Mind Control
1. Have a clear and simple outcome for your mob to perform. Don't tell them ahead of time.
2. Create a shared experience in a location where the action should take place.
3. Create a heightened emotional state in the group. Anger is an easy state to elicit but more positive states can work as well.
4. Isolate potential mob leaders who would more freely act if protected by anonymity of the crowd.
5. Call to action. Make it simple.
6. Keep the group together.
7. As the mob actions escalates others can be brought in by rumor exchange. Given the group dynamic by introducing an emotional rumor, true or not, other more docile members of the group can be called in to contact with the front lines. Screaming "“They just killed a kid with their night sticks!"” is a good example.
8. If you only want chaotic destruction it will be easy and all you have to do is add lot's of alcohol to the above equation.
Because violent mob action is well documented more benevolent mob reactions would be interesting to study.
One example of a very benevolent mob act is a fad called "an event"” that uses cell phones and web sites to solicit strangers to take part in innocuous "public performance art". One example of such an event is everyone who subscribes to the service is asked to go to the third floor of Macy's in New York City at a specific time and ask all the clerks "Where do you keep the underwear drawer."” Then at a prescribed time the group disperses and fast as they came.
Another example is Burning Man, a year week-long event set in the Nevada desert that culminates in the burning of large effigy. In that event the emotion and drug use is often very high. Burning Man could be excluded from this type of mob chaos because of it's well structured ritualistic nature.
These "event" fills most of the requirements for a mob act except the extreme emotional state. It could be assumed then that for some mob actions anonymity and an emotional state of mischievousness is sufficient to bring some action about.
A further assumption is that the more intense the emotion, especially true of emotions of fear and anger, the more volatile the potential behavior of the mob.
What could be an application of this knowledge?
Violent Organized Group Ritual
This seems most obvious to me. Creating a highly organized event in which violence, destruction and "chaos" is systematically structured into the situation and allowed under proper circumstances. Control of the violence could be made by several modifications. The first being removal of any outside elements to interfere with the ritual. Plus rules for the engagement like Fight Club and Burning Man that would swiftly deal with only the individuals and not the crowd.
Scheduling various "events", like the one mentioned at Macy's, could be used to bring some emphasis to the consumer need for a product and raise stock prices.
Already been done.
AIDS activists blocked off the golden gate bridge to gain attention for their cause.
Hold an event and sell cheaply or give away beer in the name of your competitor. Get the crowd drunk then insult them and stop selling the angry crowd beer. Bring some burly guys in wearing your competitors T-shirt and start a fight. This would create a bad rep for your competitor. Make certain there are lot's of things for the crowd to destroy that has your competitors name on it.
This would be an interesting experiment. Start a demonstration around an old house you want torn down. Insight a drunken fraternity party riot and have the mob destroy the house. Liability would go largely to the fraternity.
Being so stupid, mobs need a simple motivation and clear actions to controled effectively. Only a good creative mind can find a constuctive way to manipulate a mob. I'd love to hear more ideas.
Publish this article: Using Mind Control On A Mob Mentality