Many studies have shown that predicting how any single person will react to stimuli is difficult. Predicting how a mob will react is trivial. There are entire areas of study into mob psychology.
A mob can do incredible things. I saw a demonstration of this at SIGGRAPH many years ago. Up on the main screen was a Pong game. Instead of a person controlling the paddle positions, the crowd controlled the paddles.
Each member of the audience was given a ping pong paddle type thing. There was a different color on either side. If you wanted “your” paddle to move down, you twisted one color to the front. If you wanted it to go up, you showed the other color.
A high-speed system was watching the crowd and tallying the level of color and converting that into position information.
I used to be good at this game. I would position the paddle such that a corner would catch the “ball” and that would cause the ball to move rapidly in strange directions. The downside was that I would sometimes miss, and my opponent would get a point.
Played by the mob, it was impossible to get a corner bounce. On the other hand, we didn’t miss. Ever. The ball was moving as fast as the game would allow, and the paddle was still always at exactly the right spot, every time.
That is the power of the mob.
There are some difficult scientific puzzles that need to be solved. They were able to gamify some of them and present them on the Internet. The Internet mob was capable of solving these previously unsolvable puzzles in a couple of weeks.
That is the power of the mob.
A mob is not a protest, it is not a riot, it is not a rally or football fans tearing down the fences to get onto the soccer field. It is in the core, but it is not those things.
To have a mob, you need a certain number of people at a certain density and some sort of “trigger”
If you have a 100 people sitting in the commons listening to a band concert, that isn’t likely to be a mob. Take a 100 people, stuff them into a sports bar during a playoff game and you will have a mob.
In most cases, mobs don’t do anything bad. They all march in a parade. They all cheer when their team makes a point. When the movie ends, they all stream out of the theater. There was a trigger in each of these cases, but that trigger caused the mob to respond in an acceptable way.
In general, the boundary layer between the mob and not mob is where most things happen. The interior often has no idea what is happening at the fringe. They may be contributing to the actions on the fringe without even knowing.
This is how we ended up with grandmothers taking self-guided tours of the Capitol. They were not at the fringe of the mob, they didn’t see anything wrong, so they just moved forward with the mob and found themselves in the building.
They took selfies and walked around inside the velvet ropes. Only to find out later that they were no wanted felons.
The mob is how you end up with a pile of dead bodies at an exit because the door opens inward. The people in the interior of the mob don’t understand they have to pull back to give the front space to open the door.
Because there is mob psychology and people that know how to use it, those with nefarious goals can use that knowledge to turn the mob as they want. These are the people waving people forward while slowly walking backwards. These are the people who are yelling, “We are going IN!”
The mob just responds.
It is also how you end up with good people looting. They are carried with the mob and find themselves “looters” when that was never their intention.
A riot is a mob that has become destructive. The trigger has caused rage and now the mob is raging, destroying, consuming all in its path.
In Wisconsin, a mob of protesters was keyed up. They heard the sound of gunfire, they heard the screams directing them. That mob turned into a violent beast, set on catching and rending its prey dead. Most of the people chasing after Kyle had never considered themselves “violent”. Most would never have thought they were capable of murder.
Multiple people from that mob attempted to murder Kyle. That he survived is a miracle.
For those that know the power of the mob, the mob is terrifying. When they see 200 people with firearms chanting and screaming, they know it takes only a small trigger to turn that mob into a riot. They know this because that is how they react. That is how they plan. That is how they work.
When you watch the left rage, they don’t stop. They seem to have a goal of destructing. Destroying their current target before turning to the next.
Typically, the people of the right stop the violence when the violence against them is stopped.
Again, consider the mob at the Capitol. There was serious pushing, shoving, and attacking the doors. They seemed intent on getting into the building. We don’t see that rage turned against the police.
Once they gained entry, for the most part, they were non-destructive.
Now consider what we have seen when the left riots and storms a building. When the building is breached, the mob crashes into the building like a wave, sweeping everything in its path, leaving destruction in its wake.
That is why we are feared. They know what they do. They expect the same from us. They don’t get it. That level of self-control is terrifying to those in power.
When someone rages, screams at the sky, shakes his fist at god and the world, we ignore them. The cruel laugh at them.
The quiet man with a will to succeed is a 1000 times scarier.
Many moons ago, I played D&D with my friends. Most dungeons are designed to allow your party to become stronger as they progress downward. Each level is stronger, more powerful creatures. The party learns to be careful. Locked doors are the norm. Death waits around each corner.
Our party was deep in the dungeon, barely surviving each encounter. We came to a door and prepared to breach and take out the monster on the other side.
Our door kicker tests the door and finds it unlock. He signals to us and the breach begins. Our party pours into the room prepared to battle anything. And skidded to a stop in pure terror.
The scariest monster we had yet encountered was there. And we had upset it. We slowly started backing out of the room, apologizing all the while.
What did we see in that room? A skinny old man, naked, dripping wet as he dried his hair.
Anything that is that casual about their safety at that level of the dungeon is to be feared.
The powerful look at a peaceful mob of well armed people and they are terrified. What is that dripping wet old man going to do if he gets angry?