'Tis the season for flash mobs, you say? They're just getting started.
This year's delightful run of flash mobs is winding up with a flurry of Santas and carolers. But the phenomenon is so well suited to modern society and technology, it should last a while.
From Nashville airport police officers entertaining travelers with surprise dance moves Wednesday afternoon, to thousands of Santas popping up recently in Moscow subways or Manhattan’s crowded streets, flash mobs are in peak holiday form this year.Skip to next paragraph
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Good-hearted glee lies at the core of these flash mob events, carried out by groups of like-minded folk gathered for a serendipitous moment or three.
This year’s spate of unexpected fancies included thousands of dancers turning up to spin a Viennese waltz in the London Underground last summer as well as copycat outbursts of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus across the US since the Opera Company of Philadelphia sang it at the local Macy’s six weeks ago. Participants captured the event on cell phones and video cameras and uploaded it to the Internet, where it instantly went viral, the modus operandi of flash mobs everywhere and a favorite tool of the social media generation.
IN PICTURES: Flash Mobs
While this particular form of Dada expression has been percolating for a while – it is perfectly suited to the no-commitment younger generation, after all – the floods of poetic anarchists are in a strong uptick right now, says cultural researcher Patricia Martin, founder of LitLamp Communications in Chicago.
“A strong component of the flash mob mentality is that people be able to join in the fun, so there have to be strong shared cultural iconic images or actions,” she says, adding, “and what time of the year gives us a more shared moment than the holidays?”
Celebrate common humanity
As for why the activity is trending upwards so strongly, she suggests this is inevitable in an intensely wired world. “Connection is the essence of these events, and face-to-face, hand-to-hand interactions is the one thing that online communities can’t provide,” she notes. It makes perfect sense that a generation raised on the Web would use it to get back in touch with the real world.