Here's the Scoop: August 17, 2011

Mob mentality
I have a theory that once I become aware of a trend, it’s time for the trend to be over.
This rule of thumb usually works pretty well, especially since I’m sort of slow to realize that a trend has even occurred. So, by the time I figure out such things, the trend should be well past its prime.
This often happens to me when it comes to words or phrases that have caught the public’s fancy. When I stop and say, “Hey, that’s the 14th time I’ve heard that term today,” I’m thinking a particular phrase is probably being used too much. Time to move on.

Which brings us to the topic of “flash mobs.” I’ve never seen one. Never been invited to join one. Nor do I want the chance to have either of these experiences.

Flash mobs, for others who may be even more untrendy than I am, “are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral e-mails and are created by a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, artistic expression, or in some cases violence.” Hmmm. I thought that was Congress.

What the heck is that?
I also had the notion that the term referred to a bunch of fellows in overcoats doing stuff that will ultimately result in arrests. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Anyhow, I only became aware of the term flash mob in the past few months. According to Wikipedia, it took me about eight years to catch on. Not bad. Now, if only this creature will realize that its time has passed.

Now, it seems like almost daily I see at least one story about a flash mob turning up at some location. Once I started noticing this trend, I began reading up on this subject. I found out that flash mobs are usually not merely created when someone gets a text message and heads to a designated location to join the fun. No, there are often rehearsals involved. That way, when the mob is dancing and singing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” in the middle of a busy street, everyone knows the moves and words.

So, in reality, flash mobs are far from spontaneous. The choreography often rivals a Lady Gaga video. Well, almost.

As you can probably tell, I think that flash mobs are kind of pointless. And, I’m wondering just how is it that so many people have the kind of schedules where they can just drop whatever it is they are doing (or not doing) and take part in these pointless exercises?
I’m counting the days until this flash in the pan is over.
— Brian Sweeney