Digital Mob Mentality
The concept of mob/herd mentality has been around a while. The basic idea is that individuals acting within a crowd loose their ability to make individual rational decisions and instead move with the actions of the mob whether right or wrong.
A couple weeks ago, during a Red Rover Happy-Half-Hour, the topic of Rebecca Black came up. The conversation started with jokes about her viral video and the massive amount of bashing that was happening online. Then Matt told us more about Rebecca’s back story. He humanized her which meant it was no longer funny to make fun of her.
She’s only 13 years old. Most of her online bashers would never be so mean to a 13 year old to their face. My wife said the online mob has basically dehumanized her like she’s an LoLcat. It’s ok to make fun of cats doing stupid stuff because they aren’t human. But Rebecca is. Makes me wonder about the idea of digital mob mentality.
If something were to happen to Rebecca, would/should everyone who made fun of her online be responsible? Or at least would they feel responsible?
If a group of adults relentlessly verbally abused a 13 year old at school and then that 13 year old went home and hung herself, the adults could be held legally responsible. Or at the very least should feel emotional responsible.
With online bullying (cyber bullying) on the rise in many schools, I wonder what kind of example we as adults are setting when we act the way we did with Rebecca Black. We can’t tell our kids to be respectful online when we ourselves disply digital mob mentality.