Mob Mentality … Individually

There was a recent story about mob craziness that caught my eye and I want to talk about how that same crowd psychology effects individuals when communicating on the internet.

Sigmund Freud said, people who are in a crowd act differently towards people from those who are thinking individually.

I think it’s safe to say that what he means is that people will do things, bad things, that they would not do if dealing with others on a one-on-one basis. It’s fairly self-evident that this is true and I’m not going to devote time in this post to why it happens. What I would like to look at is how the internet engenders mob mentality even when we are sitting alone at a computer.

I don’t know how many of you read the comment section at the bottom of a story but it’s an ugly world. Every voice of reason is sandwiched by layers of vileness. A lot of times these comments come from the same individual who has multiple accounts but the effect is generally the same. A group of people say something vile, often with little or no merit, and it is amplified many times, so much so that other, more rational people, begin to give the ideas credence.

More than once people I know, decent, intelligent people, have repeated something they heard from friends or read in a comment section that was patently false. You can see my previous post about our obligation to correct those sorts of mistakes but that’s not my point here today.

The internet allows us the glory of exploring so many thoughts, so many ideas. There are many voices out there with new, and generally awful, ideas. Just because most of the ideas are bad doesn’t mean there aren’t good things available.

The voices of insanity are drowning out the reasonable. This is dangerous to our society. Good thinkers become discouraged and go into a little corner not to be heard from again.

My point here today is that you can blunt the mob!

Use your Critical Thinking cap when you read a story and even more so when you peruse the comments below. Sign up so that you can comment. Reply with rational arguments. Promulgate reasonable ideas. We can change this country by changing the way people think. Make the internet a force of good. Join in! One comment a day, that’s all I ask.

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist