Mob… It’s only three letters and one syllable – but this brevity perfectly reflects the intrinsic knee-jerk reaction; the unthinking, often instantaneous urge for retribution that mob action entails. It can be the unsavoury result of the endgame of both slow-burn or incendiary emotion but the fall-out remains the same.
Mob is the short word with the long reach. The ugly cousin of democracy, tolerance and respect… shut up in the dark recesses of the mind but closer to hand than you think – or hope. It might not seem much in its unprepossessing way but mob embodies the most regrettable aspects of human behaviour and extreme violent traits throughout history.
Mob is our deepest fears of the breakdown in order made manifest. The group dynamic is one of the most powerful negative or positive impulses in society. Mob is the evil opposite of community action and progressive people power.
Where mob leads others follow – hence the dark derivations of horde, pack and rabble. The ramifications of mob bubbles under the surface of everyday life. It’s an associate of ours – though not a friend – on a daily basis: we whisper it in corners, under our breath or cover our embarrassment at times of quiet reflection.
We have a collection of integrated and controlled outlets/responses that are designed to keep the lid on as we aspire – or pay lip-service – to the concept of civilisation. Inevitably there are times when it all frays around the edges: from a queuing frenzy on Black Friday/January Sales to the well-ordered bloodlust of chasing foxes covered by nods toward tradition; to baying crowds at football matches taking their lead from the Roman Coliseum – to Facebook assaulters saving the cost of stamps and time wasted cutting out characters from newspapers.
A mob is the boogie man of our psyche… we fear the response precisely because – however much we like to kid ourselves that we live in a civilised society – at the first hint of a problem cracks appear that immediately display how our lives are totally dependent on cynical corporate processes and government self-interest: both of which would quickly pull up the drawbridge in a real crisis leaving us to the power of the mob.
Mob exemplifies the abiding human need to belong at its basest level of expression: non-reasoning sheep following the leader… Observation of it in action makes you feel sick to the pit of your stomach – which is little wonder given the company it keeps: mob–handed; mob–justice; mob–rule; lynch–mob and hate–mob. Mob is revolutionary zeal, racial confrontation, religious intolerance, sexual revulsion, school-bully tactics and political intransigence amalgamated with the sinister deep inside us all. Something best kept at arm’s length in anything you do.