Within seconds, a mob of dozens of teenagers storm a 7-Eleven convenience store at 2 in the morning and steal items off the shelves and out of the coolers. This event appears to have been a flash mob organized through some form of social media. This is not the first outbreak of a flash mob and disturbingly, it appears to be a trend.
A teenager stealing candy from a store, while criminal, is not the kind of crime that we see as a serious threat. But a group of teenagers acting in concert is a very serious threat and will ultimately lead to violence. We know that mob mentality is a dangerous phenomenon.
Teenagers were never known for their rational thought process. Add on peer pressure, rationalization and teenage adrenaline and the mixture is volatile. It is just a matter of time before a shopkeeper or pedestrian fears for his life and a gun is drawn. As this trend continues, the police will be forced to start responding more forcefully.
Businesspeople and politicians have been known to make poor decisions, or defy their own common sense when working in a group. Many books, including my book, Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People explore the dangers of mob mentality and groupthink. The point is that anybody, not just teenagers, can be swayed into doing things they would never ordinarily do – and yes, even you.
A poor economy, unemployment and other social ills cannot be blamed for these activities. It is nothing more than excusing bad behavior by hiding behind the crowd. These flash mobs that steal, harm or even just intimidate are dangerous and this trend must be stopped in its tracks.
Keep yourself, your children, friends and anyone you know away from any form of these flash mobs – no matter how innocuous it may appear at the outset.