The other day I noticed that my friend living in America when faced with a question starting with ‘what is…?’ turns to Wikipedia at once. Let’s follow her example. "A flash mob (or flashmob) is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then disperse. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails. The term is generally not applied to events and performances organized for the purposes of politics (such as protests), commercial advertisement, publicity stunts, that involve public relation firms, or paid professionals.” – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. At first sight this definition looks fine. However, after some consideration, sounds debatable. First of all, it says that ‘people assemble suddenly’. It’s true from non-participants’ point of view, but those who take part may have spent quite a few hours rehearsing such spontaneity. Like in this example.
Further it describes flash mobs as ‘unusual and pointless acts’. I can agree that some of them are really pointless. But most are light-hearted, fun-provoking, uniting and arising a feeling of excitement acts. If an activity can make people experience such feelings, it can’t be called pointless.
Have a look and I’m sure you won’t stay indifferent.
I think that nowadays people have become so deeply absorbed in virtual communication that they start longing for real human interaction. And flash mobs have become one of the forms to help.
As any social gathering which is difficult to control, flash mobs brought up concerns that they may turn into social and political riots and end up in acts of violence. The official birthday of flash mobs is May 2003. Although the first attempt made by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine, was unsuccessful, the second that took place at Macy’s department store on June 3d, 2003, is described in dozens of articles devoted to the topic. Here is the description cited from Wikipedia: "More than 100 people converged upon the ninth floor rug department of the store, gathering around an expensive rug. Anyone approached by a sales assistant was advised to say that the gatherers lived together in a warehouse on the outskirts of New York, that they were shopping for a "love rug", and that they made all their purchase decisions as a group.”
A snapshot of speed and scale of spreading the idea around the globe. July 24,2003 – Rome – 300 people flooded book stores asking for non-existent titles August 7-8 – London, Amsterdam, Dublin ,Zurich, Viena
No wonder that sociologists got worried about the possible transformations and outcomes. On the other hand some people predicted that because of its ridiculous and pointless nature, this activity would soon die out. Time is the best judge. More than seven years have passed since then. Flash mobs have neither died out nor have they mutated into a horrible monster. The idea has spread as far as such global provinces as Ulyanovsk. April, 2007 is marked by the first official flash mob in our city. Meanwhile the world largest in terms of geography spread flash mob, a pillow fight flash mob, involved 25 cities around the world. On March 22, 2008 more than 5 000 people took part in the first international flash mob. But such massive event as well as huge gathering of 21 000 Oprah’s fans in Chicago to celebrate the start of her 24th Season did not show a tiniest trace of cruelty or violence. On the contrary, people were swamped in exhilarating energy flows and fits of incredible joy. That’s why nowadays it’s a rear case when you find any negative opinion on flash mobs.
Talking about flash mobs, I can’t but mention the Pregnant women breakdancing in London because of its eccentric visual character, social background and striking difference between Russian mentality and European one. Anyway, no matter what feelings it arises, keeping the background idea in mind, it can’t be called pointless at all.
In our lives we are so bound with rules, restrictions and obligations that one day each of us is ready to do something smashing these limits. I do understand those who took part in Black Tie Beach and honestly not once I’ve had fits of itching desire to do something of that kind.
I would like to finish my brief review of flash mobs with an examples of the most popular type of flash mobs – a dancing one. They are captivating and catching. They unite people of various ages and walks of life and charge them with happiness. Just look at their faces. They speak for themselves.