How Flash Mobs Jumped The Shark

Flash mobs have changed.

For the worse.

Flash mobs started in 2003 by a guy who wanted to poke fun at hipsters and their conformity. Bill Wasik got together a bunch of people to gather around a large rug on the ninth floor of Macy’s in Manhattan. If approached by a clerk from Macy’s the participants were to explain they were all living together and shopping for a love rug.

That’s it.

Nothing more.

The flash mob then disappeared.

Other flash mobs included newspaper sword fights and pillow fights and other harmless “mob” activities.

They had little planning, few requirements, and were of short duration. The primary objective was to use email or the new social media to do something social on a whim.

Flash Mobs were a satiric expression.

Then somebody decided that flash mobs should entertain the surprised public.

This isn’t when the mobs jumped the shark.

Those early entertainment flash mobs were spectacular and immensely entertaining for those who were surprised and for those that viewed the video shot on multiple phones.

Here is the video of the first flash mob phenomenon I saw. The Sound of Music in Antwerp Belgium.

Classic, captivating, clever, and cool.

Was this where flash mobs jumped the shark?

Not hardly.

Even these mobs, although not satiric in nature, were design to entertain the harried public. To surprise people when they least expected it. It had spontaneity. This group of 200 dancers only did two rehearsals. And then they were gone.

The latest and lamest abomination is here. I won’t even embed it, you may have already seen it because it is a bunch of Christmas carols sung by some church choir.

Lame on so many levels:

  1. It’s Christmas carols
  2. in a mall
  3. nobody is moving
  4. and it’s exclusionary.

Remember Christmas carols by sung by choirs and the public shared the joy by joining in? The idea was to get as many people as possible to participate.

This is the opposite of that.

It’s a bunch of people who normally gather regularly to do something doing it in a place where people gather expecting to be entertained.

Why not just put some flyers out announcing your “flash mob” will be at the Methodist Church on Main Street at 10 a.m. Sunday?

The first flash jobs evoked emotions of surprise and enjoyment. Now they just stop people who whip out their phones and stare blankly at the tiny screens.

These flash mobs are done to draw attention to the performers, not to entertain or amuse the general public.

“Look at me!” the flash mobs scream. I’m special. You’re not. I’m in a flash mob. You’re not.

And people are even calling lame public proposals for marriage flash mobs!

But it was fun while it lasted.

But it’s over.

Call your highly rehearsed and planned and officially endorsed event anything but a flash mob.


It’s over.


Flash mobs have jumped the shark to the point where they only time they are fun is when some poor soul just doesn’t get it and tries to join without having a clue…

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