MeFi says “Flash Mobs are cool“. I say MeFi can suck it. Flash Mobs (a term coined by Larry Niven describing what would happen when teleportation technology enabled people to instantly appear on the site of breaking news) seem to be the hip new thing these days and everyone is saying how interesting or cool it is. Someone on Slashdot even wrote “It makes me wonder if we are on the verge of creating a trans-human intelligence capable of consciousness.” Obviously they were modded +4 Interesting.
In case you’ve been living a real life and missed out on the Flash Mob craze, the idea is to use email to spontaneously organize a crowd that gathers at a specific place and performs a specific act, such as going to a rug store and asking for a rug. Guess what? It’s not interesting anymore! It was the first time someone did it, someone from NPR (The Next Big Thing) was even on the scene trying to find profound significance in the fact that it happened at Claire’s (a non-store that sells non-things). That was interesting, because it was new and self-organized and unique.
Now it has been repeated so many times that it’s hard to find any meaning whatsoever in a bunch of people standing around and looking confused. Do people have so much time on their hands that they need to fill it with flash mobbing? Do normal people scare them, living life from a Hot Topic epigram? Alternately, have I missed the profound significance of a group of people seemingly spontaneously (but actually quite deliberately) showing up at a place and hanging out for a short period of time?
I guess the better question might be whether after all I’ve written above, would I still drop by a flash mob if one happened in Ann Arbor?
[Update: Best quote from the MeFi discussion: “And here we have a group of bored webloggers trying to find something more inane to do than jotting their random thoughts into an online journal.”]

One response to “Flash Mob This”

  1. Correction: Niven didn’t coin or use the term “flash mobs.” You’re thinking of Niven’s term “flash crowds.”

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