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How Corporations Co-opted the "Flash Mob"

Many companies are now producing flash-mob happenings.

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“And suddenly at midnight -- then the temperature was below zero, really a cold night – all these people showed up, they came like six to a car, just showed up, and there they were. It was something quite energizing about all these people seeing all these other people, because they knew it hadn’t been announced any place but the radio program that they were all listening to. And somehow the cultural community and community of interests were intent on recognizing themselves.”

The police estimated that seven thousand people were there, including many whose flights had been canceled; all of the Southwest flights were canceled due to a computer glitch. At one point, an undercover cop passed a joint to a teenager and then arrested her for being entrapped without a license. Fass tried in vain to convince the police to let her go. The Fly-in lasted for a few hours, but it had turned into a bummer because of the bust. Ultimately, she was given a suspended sentence.

Let us conclude with a pair of political flash mobs.

A November 2008 dispatch from Global Voices was headlined “Brazil: Flash mob protest against Digital Crimes Bill.” The article stated that “Brazilian bloggers and netizens took to the streets of Sao Paulo to protest against the Digital Crimes Bill, which typifies the cyber-crimes punishable by law and stipulates penalties accordingly. They claim the law has so many flaws that, instead of punishing real criminals, it might end up deeming as crime trivial conduct when searching the Internet.”

And an August 2013 report from WTF: Before It’s News was headlined “Flash Mob of Protests: 'No War With Syria' Rallies Planned in Over 70 Cities for Saturday, 8/31.” The article stated that “A new campaign has been started to help coordinate worldwide protests against the acceleration of the war in Syria by the corporate military-industrial complex. Protests are already planned in over 70 cities worldwide for Saturday, August 31. It’s almost like the flash mob version of a global anti-war protest.”


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