Flash Mobs

According to Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English, a flash mob is a group of people who organize on the internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse. The Internet is not the only channel used to arrange these events. Although viral emailing, web postings, web blogging, and facebook/myspace play big roles in organizing these mobs, mass texting and word of mouth are also channels used to organized flash mobs. The term flash mob is referred to as events organized via telecommunications, social media, mobile communications, and viral emailing. Although publicity stunts are technically flash mobs, events coordinated by public relations or as political demonstrations are not referred to as flash mobs. There are sites on the internet that allow people to post or submit their events or event ideas to the online community. They allow for people to respond or comment and gain further information on upcoming flash mobs (flashmob.com).

The first flash mob was started in Manhattan in 2003. Bill Wasik, the senior editor of Harper's Magazine, emailed 50 of his friends on his email list and attempted to create the first flash mob. Although the first attempt was not successful, his second attempt was. What started out as an attempt to create a social experiment, ended up a craze and a global fad overnight. Many people view these arranged events with no apparent agenda as performance art and not just some social experiment trying to break some rules of conformity. One of the biggest flash mobs performed, the World Wide Pillow Fight Day, involved over 25 cities from around the world with more than 5,000 people alone in New York City. Howard Rheingold, author of "Smart Mobs: The Next Revolution" said that so far these smart mobs are harmless fun, but all mobs have the potential for danger. Some people think that the numbers might reach outrageous levels and the phenomenon will end just as fast as it emerged.