Observations of Man (Part 3)

08.16.20 10:01 AM

Comments and remarks on the writings of Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments

Mob mentality is an interesting and powerful phenomena. It can incite riots among the civil, and peace among warring factions. The power of mob mentality lies in the fact that, as observed in other postings within the Wellth Blog, the human tendency is to sympathize with the emotions of others. Sympathy of a fellow being is strong, so likewise, it's much stronger when sympathizing over a similar plight with two, four, ten, or a thousand. And, as often is the case, sympathy with such plights is not only justifiable, but understandable and reasonable. If the case were not so, if the object of the mob's gratitude or resentment was not to merit such emotion, the mob would not have formed in the first place, as each person would fail to enter into sympathy with the first's feelings, and no mass would be formed.

But, when a mob does begin to form, and sympathies merge and are reinforced, there is a compounding and amplifying effect that must be recognized, and heeded, especially in the case of negatively charged sympathies. The mob mentality, of an elevated mood and sense of joy that comes from entering into mutual joy with the audience of a loved one returning to their waiting family in an airport, the joy seen and therefore felt by a young one's exclamation of excitement upon seeing the return of their parent resonates within everyone. The mob mentality, for a moment or two, is powerfully felt by the universal entering into of the young's joyous sympathy. The compounding effect, however, is short-lived, and recognized. The mood returns to normal. The case is not so with a riotous mob storming the gates of their abuser. Each new mob member, not only entering into the sympathy of the first, adds their own particular spin on the resentment, their own grudges with the accused, and each other mob member is offered additional negative emotions to enter into sympathy with, compounding the effects.

As each new mob mentality participant joins, the negative sympathetic energy grows, and reason is quickly lost to emotion. Injustices, even if they have not been inflicted on any particular member of the mob specifically, demand repentance from the perpetrator, at a level that is not reasonable. Therefore, while mob mentality can be powerful, that power can be misdirected and garner unfortunate results. It is advisable, then, before entering into a sympathy with any mob, and succumbing to the power of the mob mentality, that a critical investigation to the merit and constant, vigilant rationale be applied. It will save you from joining a mob that spirals to disaster, or making irrational decisions based upon what was at first a rational grievance.

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