When people are part of a large group of ‘protestors’ or a very large crowd where emotions are highly charged, these people as individuals will become vulnerable of losing their individuality. While a given person is physically him or herself, their thoughts, emotions, and actions can become highly influenced by the charge of the crowd or mob itself.
And as the emotion level of the crowd grows…
…there is a certain amount of individual self-awareness that is lost. People become less likely to follow normal restraints and inhibitions while they emotionally merge with the crowd.
When some within the crowd begin to turn violent (agitators, aggressors), many of the individuals within the crowd may feel or believe that they will not be held accountable or responsible for their (bad) behavior because they perceive the actions as that of the crowd as a whole. It becomes ‘right and just’ in their minds. So they may join in…
Because ‘everyone is doing it’, it becomes more ‘okay’ to do it yourself. To join in. Being just one small part of the whole crowd, thoughts of accountability are minimized.
It becomes easier to get caught up in the emotion of the highly charged group when others around are cheering or jeering (or even fighting, looting, and pillaging). Something guttural happens to those who get caught up in it.
When people within an unruly mob believe that their bad behavior cannot be traced back to them, they are more likely to break social norms and engage in violence themselves.
So, what’s the point of this?
To understand that bad stuff can happen within a very highly charged protest or mob-type environment when a ‘spark’ sets it off. The violence can become contagious and get ugly real quick. Mob mentality can be a dangerous and infectious thing. It can even spark across geographical barriers to other locations where like-minded agitators are ‘ready to rumble’.
I bring this up because we’re less than a day away from the Inauguration. Will Friday be one of those days? We shall soon see.
Related: How To Survive A Stampede