Mobbing you for your phone

In Howard Rheingold’s own blog he talks about an argument that Scott Sanders has about smart mobs not being all that common even today. In part of Scott’s article, Scott cites that people will only gather into a smart mob if the text being sent to them relates to them in some manner:

People will not respond to any message, just the ones that they feel are relevant to them. Second, while the social identities that could potentially lead to a smart mob likely persist over time, the social climate must be exact in order for smart mobs to develop. Social identities must be activated via the process of social-categorization by contextual features in the environment or by interaction with others.

He also states that we must first be socialized individuals as well. In either case people will respond to things, even if it doesn’t relate to them. Many people will respond to a text to do something because “everyone is doing it,” thereby showing that they are not acting individually either(usually seen most often with teenagers who want to fit into the clique- defined popularity contest). Chain letters/emails work in much the same fashion, spreading because their friends sent it to them or because they might get something for it. How do you explain the myriad of computer viruses that spread due to people thinking they’ve won something based on a message they’ve just received? Just because it is not directly related to the situation of the person receiving the message does not mean that the person is not going to respond in some manner. There also does not really need to be any social unrest going on to make people want to gather based on a text message. Take college students as an example- many students will attend functions that they’ve been told about, but doesn’t relate to them purely on the idea that there might be free food/stuff. I know I’ve attended many a function, not because I was interested in the subject matter or that it involved something about me, but merely because there might be free food. In a few cases, I’ve attended just because there might be some form of entertainment value for me. Anyway, people will click on something/attend an event just to satisfy the natural curiosity inherent in human nature- they don’t need a reason- they just want to find out what is going on, and in some cases it just happens to end up bringing a social change or government upset. How many times have you gone somewhere/attended a function just because the way it was worded piqued your interest?


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