Friday, January 7, 2011

What's with all these Flash Mobs?

You've no doubt heard about or seen a Flash Mob by now. The first one I saw was on Oprah, when an entire audience learned a dance to a Black Eyed Peas song. Since then Flash Mobs seem to be popping everywhere. In fact, a co-worker of mine participated in a West Coast Swing version at a local mall.

The latest Flash Mob to catch my attention was one originating from the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where (spoiler alert) a couple used a singing Flash Mob as an intro to their nuptials... at a mall. Now the mall part may seem a little, well, commercial, but it's actually quite lovely. Don't take my word for it, watch for yourself (thanks Kate Longo for sharing this on Facebook):

Okay, so I've share some fun links and videos. But the reason I decided to blog about this was... I'm bored on a Friday night... No, not really. The reason is because I think there's something interesting driving the Flash Mob phenomenon. Allow me for a moment to muse.

Why would someone want to participate in a Flash Mob? Perhaps it's about getting 15 minutes of fame in a relatively painless and anonymous fashion. Or perhaps it's deeper than that. I've recently begun to appreciate the power of groups of people coming together with voices raised and limbs flailing in unison. There's something primal about it. Something central to the human condition.

Okay, so people like to get together and sing and dance. Not really a deep observation considering we've been doing that kind of stuff for centuries.

But I wonder if the popularity of Flash Mobs is a symptom of our times. It's not news that we're living through a particularly challenging era. And I'm not just talking about a terrible economy. Our lives are shifting rapidly thanks to the wonders technology. And while being able to watch movies on my iPhone while waiting in line at the DMV is a pleasure, it's also a burden. Technology is isolating. We have to work harder to have real face-to-face communications. Families are spread out. Friends are half-way around the world. Video conferencing can only do so much. So maybe the Flash Mob phenomenon is a manifestation of this need to connect, to be together with our fellow man, raise our voice to the skies and jump around like an idiot.

So in the immortal words of Lady Gaga, the true poet of the 21st Century, Just Dance...


  1. I like the insight Stina, I think it's true. We need community, we need to sing and dance.
    I was so struck by this very profound moment in the middle of the Pru, among all the commercialism and hustle and bustle. On one hand, it seemed too public, not intimate or sacred; but on the other, they caused the onlookers to be part of the "congregation" for their wedding, it brought people together for 6 minutes and catered this profound moment to the world we live in... and without involving the chaos, overspending, manipulation and hassle of the wedding industry!
    But maybe I'm reading too much into it...Bobby's probably right, it was probably for shock value youtube fame.


  2. Don't let Bobby's cynicism harsh your mellow. What you do, leading people in song, is meaningful. Without it we'd have a pretty rotten existence!