Photobucket had recently changed their policy and now all the images from my 650+ blog posts are disabled. I am slowly editing them by moving my images to my own server at AWS, but it will take time. In case there is a particular old post you want to see the images of, kindly drop me a mail at and I'll keep that at a high priority. Thank you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chp 360. Mob Mentality

These past few days, I’m sure many of you are also talking about the Tottenham riot, which started after an alleged gangster was fatally shot by the police. Every day, all we saw in the papers and news channels were about the mass looting & arson.

Anyway, I’m not writing about the looting that’s taking place in London or in the past at other places like New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina), Haiti (after the earthquake), Vancouver (after Canucks lost in the Stanley’s Cup), or even the looting that DIDN’T happen in Japan (after the terrible tsunami tragedy). There are many discussion forums and websites where people can write their opinionated thoughts about such incidents where you’ll get the usual dosage of online commentators – a potpourri of racist comments, smart comments, stupid comments, insightful comments, biased comments, troll comments and completely unrelated comments.

However, this post is not about judging other people who are at a different location going through something we’re not. Instead, this post is about you and me. Something that we may have experienced many times unknowingly.

First of all, mob mentality is nothing but an unconstitutional (and usually violent) version of herd mentality.

Yeah, we’ve all been there, if you really think about it.

One clear example when most of us experience this everyday would be when you’re on the road. Picture a busy traffic signal at a crossroad (where there are no cops). Vehicles stopping at the red signal are waiting for it to turn green, while a few vehicles are moving across in front of them because their signal is green.

Observe carefully and you will see that most of the vehicles on the red signal are revving up slowly, moving inch by inch forward. And then suddenly one or two vehicles (usually a two-wheeler or an auto) jumps the red signal when he sees the chance, hence blocking those vehicles that have the green signal. The moment this happens, other vehicles on the red signal lane join in.

Now they know that this is a group effort. If it was some lone vehicle breaking the law, the vehicles coming on the green light may not even stop. But when a large number of vehicles break the rules simultaneously, they have the power.

Even if you abuse the drivers who are blocking your path, they will just shrug their shoulders and point at the vehicles in front of them, as if to say they too are doing it so you must abuse them too, or that they are simply going with the flow.

And here’s the irony. Sometimes if you don’t want to join the vehicles jumping the red signal and decide to wait for the signal to turn green, other vehicles behind you actually honk their horns and abuse you! Thomas Fuller was right when he said, “The mob has many heads, but no brains.”

Being in a large group where everybody has the same agenda gives you more confidence, even if you don’t know the other members in your group.

Take another road example. This time you are a pedestrian. You have to cross a busy road where vehicles are speeding and not stopping for anybody. Imagine you are not allowed to cross that road and there’s an underground/overhead pedestrian crossing nearby but you are too lazy to take that extra effort to climb up and down. If you are alone, you know how hard it is to cross that road right? But then, if you are in a large group where everybody wants to get to the other side, then crossing that busy road suddenly becomes so easy. All of you slowly inch forward and vehicles seeing the large group of people automatically slow down.

That’s the power of a large group. Even if you are all breaking the law, you know you are in a large group so chances of something happening to you are reduced. That’s how mobs are created. Samuel Johnson once said, “Get together a hundred or two men, however sensible they may be, and you are very likely to have a mob”. True indeed.

Is it from the movie Gladiator or the HBO original series “ROME” that someone said, “Control the mob, and you control Rome”?

Even in Mizoram just last year, did we not see the fury of the mob when a child rapist and murderer was caught? The police tried their best to control the mob, but they were no match for them and the rapist slash murderer died violently in the hands of the people.

But at least mass looting like what took place in London, Vancouver etc will never take place in Mizoram, because after all, Mizoram is known as a place where “everybody knows everybody” types, so if any group of people try to loot a store, the store owner will probably recognize them!

Just imagine a group of disgruntled youth (hipsters) trying their best to look all anarchist and all, charge into a shop clutching chains and machetes. The store owner looks at the ringleader-

“Oh, Sanga, how are you? How’s your dad doing these days?”

“urrmmm… fine, Pu Thiang, thanx and I hope all is well with your family?” (frantically whispers to his gang – “Not this one. Next shop. Next shop.”)

And as they all meekly leave – “Are you leaving so soon? You sure you don’t want tea?”

“Errr… no thanks Pu Thiang.”

“Oh you’re going to the next shop? Good. You will not believe Pi Chhingi has opened up there! Remember her? I think she was your primary school teacher?”

“F$%^%$” (whispers to his cronies – “think it’s better if we all just go home”)

Ahh… the beauty of Mizoram :)

I’ll end this post with a prolific quote by D.H. Lawrence:

”Every man has a mob self and an individual self, in varying proportions.”

Amen to that.

Friday Cheers, and Happy Independence Day in advance!


benjamin rualthanzauva said...

"etc will never take place in Mizoram, because after all, Mizoram is known as a place where “everybody knows everybody” types"

It happened in Mizoram in 1994 when one of (or both) brothers was murdered by gunda in Baga. I think they were in there own truck to ferry bricks.

At first crow gathered in Bawngkawn, then hell broke loose.

The following days, YMA leaders on loud speaker (YMA Information Center atangin...) requested those who looted to return the goods.

I'll you the details. It Happened!

Mizohican said...

I mean it will never happen like how it is happening in London, where people go on a rampage looting from each other for almost a week. Our population and community is still too small to experience such a thing.

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

It will not happen for over a week because we have shops enough to loot only for a day.

Mizohican said...

So you're saying if the shops can be looted in one day, a Mizo mob will definitely do so? That's something I find hard to believe.

VaiVa said...

Human is a human... it is same very where.... we just need the spark.

Shahnaz Kimi said...

Hey there- for the first time (and you know I am a big fan of your writing), I was not sure what you were getting at - still do not get it - perhaps you are not entirely done with your chain of thoughts to put it down on blog:-)

H.Vangchhia said...

I chik hle mai, a ngaihnawm ka ti takzet.

"Observe carefully and you will see that most of the vehicles on the red signal are revving up slowly, moving inch by inch forward."

I'm nt one of them :)

H.Vangchhia said...

I chik hle mai, a ngaihnawm ka ti takzet.

"Observe carefully and you will see that most of the vehicles on the red signal are revving up slowly, moving inch by inch forward."

I'm nt one of them :)

Sam said...

Three years ago, a friend from London told me that what people feared most in London and many western cities are disorganised "Youths", and they are dangerous, something can happen anytime. Looking back, I feel he was on the money. The social order has nearly collapsed with no one having a say on their youths. Our country and state - Mizoram must pay a good attention to these age group.

mesjay said...

A good analysis of mob mentality. I wish and hope you're right about the Mizoram scene, but i'm not so sure. It did happen in the past...

Anonymous said...

On an annoying note, I don't think hipsters are defined as "disgruntled youth", "disgruntled hipsters" would've sounded better, and in "Gladiator", the line was "Win the crowd, and you win your freedom". :P
In Mizoram, the biggest success of Mob Mentality is the ban of alcohol, individually we don't mind allowing it, yet as a group, we do mind.
And the thing about whether it can happen back home, it had happened and can still happen, it just requires few people who are pushed up against a wall to the point of desperation, that they don't have a choice to care enough.

karan(cactus) said...

oh nice friend i like the way u write....thats y followed..keep it going...:)
and ya check out mine as well ..just new to it :)

Krista Roluahpuia said...

Like it! This could be the positive side of being less population..... Your vocabulary is strong buddy....:)

Anonymous said...

This won't work in reality, that is what I suppose.
look 4 | look 1 | good check good check | check 4 | also 9 this 2 | good 5