When flash mobs first became a “thing,” they were “good clean fun.” Mobs of people would break out into dance or freeze at precisely the same time for the amusement of all. A single individual could organize hundreds or thousands with the power of social media and just one tweet could make it happen. Wells Fargo even organized their own flash mob for a bit of viral marketing. And then somebody had to go be a jerk.
Over the last year, flash mobs have become less innocuous and more like what their name implies – a literal mob. Last spring, the Plaza section of Kansas City was plagued by groups of several hundred teens gathering for a flash mob… then stealing purses, rings and vandalizing. It’s suspected that the recent London riots had been organized through social media.
So, what’s the deal?
Before your parents go blaming social media for the downfall of humanity, didn’t a “flash mob” also help clean up London? The @Riotcleanup Twitter page has amassed over 80,000 followers and volunteers to organize cleanup effort; the #riotcleanup hash tag also helped gather volunteers. A tumblr account was even created to catch looters in the act. The basic tools of Twitter and even Facebook can be used in crisis-like situations. Twitter accounts are easily created, hash tags can be quickly proliferated and tumblr pages can go viral in the blink of an eye – all to create real social change. How can you give power to the people and steal the attention? Social media, of course.