Monday 01 July 2013

Mob Mentality Of The Net Generation

The ease by which crowds can congregate online anonymously has given rise to a new kind of negative mob mentality of the net (or internet) generation. Under the false guise of freedom of speech, these mobs feed on each others’ blinded anger and misplaced self-entitlement to viciously demean, chastise, and humiliate some individual for an alleged act of wrongdoing. These attacks have little regards for the whole truth, and their punishments are disproportionate to the severity of the supposed crime. Politicians and celebrities, in particular, make for easy targets for a mob who sees fit to practice its brand of social justice in order to bring them down from their ivory towers and perched pedestals. Social psychologists have theorized that the loss of personal identity in a crowd (deindividuation theory) frees an individual from social restraints and weakens the personal control of impulsive behaviors that are otherwise antisocial. This deindividuation then allows the participant to blindly follow the collective consciousness of the crowd (emergent norm theory) imprinted by self-imposed leaders whose disruptive behaviors are seen as the norm when they go unchallenged. American psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s famed Stanford prison experiment is prima facie of the permissive power of deindividuation in dictating negative crowd behaviors. Alas, regardless of whichever theory is correct in explaining mob mentality, it does little to curb the online behavior of the perpetrators or help the victims of mob attacks in the cyberspace.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Tech • Under World
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