Is “surge attacks” better than “flash mobs”?

I think the term “surge attack,” which I coined in the previous entry—or, alternatively, “surge beating” or “flash attack”—is better than the current phrase “flash mob.” The term “flash mob” conveys the idea that suddenly a group of youthful black criminals band together and raid a store or attack a white person, but it doesn’t necessarily convey the idea of physical violence. By contrast, the terms “surge attack,” “surge beating,” and “flash beating” clearly convey both the sudden joining together of individuals into a menacing group (often facilitated by social media), and the physical violence they commit.

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N. writes:

“Surge attack” is a useful term, as is “pack attack,” not to mention plain old “gang attack.” However, since the larger media loves novelty, the newness of the term yo uhave coined might give it a chance to leak out into the wider culture.

“Flash beatings” has use as well. Anything that implies the delibeate, as opposed to random, nature of these attacks. I’m so weary of the word “random” in any news story having to do with crime.

D. Edwards writes:

You write:

By contrast, the terms “surge attacks,” “surge beatings,” and “flash beatings” clearly convey both the sudden gathering of individuals into a group (often facilitated by social media), and the physical violence the group commits.

Pogrom is more appropriate, I believe.

“po-grom n. An organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group, especially one conducted against Jews.”

I think that this violence is organized against the Judeo-Christian majority of this country. Mr. Obama is organizing “his” community.

LA replies:

I don’t know. Pogroms are much more highly organized, officially organized, than the “flash attacks,” which go no higher than a group of acquaintances. Still, as this phenomenon continues to develop and get worse, it’s possible that pogrom may start to become an appropriate term for it.

Ferg writes:

I agree that the term “flash mobs” is inadequate. I think the original term from a number of years ago that the young blacks themselves used “wilding” was quite illustrative, It kind of conveys the savage and uncivilized nature of these attacks. Civilized people don’t go “wilding”.

LA replies:

“Wilding” is a good term, and I’ve used it myself from time to time for the “flash mobs.” But the problem with “wilding” in my mind is that it is mainly associated with more extreme instances of violence, such as the attack on the Central Park Jogger many years ago, in which a women jogging in Central Park in New York City was brought down by a pack of black and Hispanic “youths,” knocked unconscious and repeatedly struck in the head as she was repeatedly raped. Then they left her for dead, and she lost so much blood that she barely survived. “Wilding” in that instance meant the total destruction—or within inches of the total destruction—of a human being.

So incidences in which a mob suddenly surges on a street and knocks down people and terrorizes them but not causing them grave injury, does not quite come up to the level of “wilding,” at least as the word exists in my mind. But maybe I’m being too restrictive, and “wilding” is, after all, the best general word for this kind of behavior.

Ken Hechtman writes:

When it started ten years ago, the flash mob fad had nothing to do with blacks and it had nothing to do with violence. It was just about assembling a large group of people in a public place, doing something bizarre and inexplicable and disappearing just as quickly. That orchestra story on Powerline is closer to the original idea than any kind of gang attack.

LA replies:

Were they called “flash mobs”? I ask because “mob” denotes violence or the threat of violence. If they weren’t violent, why would they be called mobs?

Second, even if the term was used ten years ago with the benign meaning you’re talking about, the term has only become common in the last two years, and during that period it has been used scores of times in the mainstream media exclusively to denote gangs of youths who suddenly invade a store or start disorder in a public place or physically attack people.

Ken Hechtman replies:

From Wikipedia:

Flash mobs began as a form of performance art.[13] While they started as an apolitical act, flash mobs may share superficial similarities to political demonstrations. Flash mobs can be seen as a specialized form of smart mob,[7] a term and concept proposed by author Howard Rheingold in his 2002 book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution.[20]

Use of the term

The first documented use of the term flash mob as it is understood today was in 2003 in a blog entry posted in the aftermath of Wasik’s event.[14][21][22] The term was inspired by the earlier term smart mob.[21]

Flash mob was added to the 11th edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary on 8 July 2004 where it noted it as an “unusual and pointless act” separating it from other forms of smart mobs such as types of performance, protests, and other gatherings.[3][23] Also recognized noun derivatives are flash mobber and flash mobbing.[3] Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English defines flash mob as “a group of people who organize on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse.”[24] This definition is consistent with the original use of the term; however, both news media and promoters have subsequently used the term to refer to any form of smart mob, including political protests;[25] a collaborative Internet denial of service attack;[26] a collaborative supercomputing demonstration;[27] and promotional appearances by pop musicians.[28] The press has also used the term flash mob to refer to a practice in China where groups of shoppers arrange online to meet at a store in order to drive a collective bargain.[29]

Notable flash mobs

Silent disco

Another example of a well known flash mob was the April 2006 silent disco in London. At various London Underground stations, people gathered with their portable music devices, and at a set time began dancing to their music.[30] It was reported that more than 4,000 people participated at London Victoria station.[31] This had an impact on the regular service of the system enough for the city’s police to begin crowd control and slowly clear people.[32] Since 2006, there have been several flash mobs in the London Underground, including subsequent silent discos comparable in size.[9]

Worldwide Pillow Fight Day

Worldwide Pillow Fight Day (or International Pillow Fight Day) was a pillow fight flash mob that took place on March 22, 2008. Over 25 cities around the globe participated in the first “international flash mob,” which was the world’s largest flash mob to date.[6] According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 5,000 participated in New York City, overtaking London’s 2006 Silent Disco gathering as the largest recorded flash mob.[5] Word spread via social networking sites, including Facebook, Myspace, private blogs, public forums, personal websites, as well as by word of mouth, text messaging, and email. Participating cities included Atlanta, Beirut, Boston, Budapest, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dublin, Houston, Huntsville, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York City, Paris, Pécs, Shanghai, Stockholm, Sydney, Székesfehérv├ír, Szombathely, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and Zurich.[16][33]

LA replies:

Ok, that’s interesting.

However, with all the examples the Wikipedia article gives, it’s remarkable that it is completely silent on the main use of “flash mob” in recent years, which is “youths” suddenly joining in a group to commit criminal and frequently anti-white mayhem. This strikes me as an example of the unreliability of Wikipedia when it comes to contemporary, controversial subjects.

Let’s repeat Wikipedia’s main definition: “a group of people who organize on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse.”

Given this generic definition, I’m thinking more strongly than before that “flash mob” is not the correct term for the type of activity we are discussing. For one thing, not all these violent incidents necessarily involve communication via the Internet. For another, the generic meaning of “flash mob” not being criminal activity, the term “flash mob” may not be appropriate for activity which is always criminal and frequently violent.

So, “flash mobs” may be too mild a term, and “wilding” may be too strong, at least in most cases. That’s why I like “surge attack,” as it conveys both the sudden surging into a threatening mob, and the violence the mob uses. Also, “surge” is a more descriptive adjective for this phenomenon than “flash.” “Flash” denotes suddenness and extreme brevity—the mob instantly forms, then it instantly disperses. But “surge” captures the fearsome quality of the mob, as in the sudden gathering of water into a big, destructive wave that crashes down on whoever is in its path.

October 21

Matt writes:

I think the term “flash” should be retained, as it has come to mean any sort of group activity quickly assembled and dispersed using modern technology like smart phones, social media, etc. The term “mob,” when used with “flash,” has unfortunately lost its violent connotation. The “mob” part of “flash mob” started off as a whimsical thing, used ironically, and at least at first really implied its opposite: an organized and civilized group art form not a violent and disorganized mob.

“Flash” implies a group effort coordinated by modern technology, which from the point of view of bystanders seems to emerge suddenly out of nothing in the midst of ordinary people going about their daily lives. What is needed is a term to replace “mob,” preferably a single word, which implies a violent, racially motivated attack.

A quick thesaurus check is unhelpful. I’m somewhat tempted to combine two words, like “terrorracism” or something. Flash terrorracism? Flash terror-racism?

But maybe I spent too much time as an MBA. The things we businessmen do to language are inexcusable.

Matt continues:

Having read the whole thread now, I think you may have underestimated the extent to which the “flash mob” phenomenon has been enabled by the explosion in mobile technology. I expect that almost all of these incidents—certainly those which involve more than a few individuals—involve coordination and communication using mobile phones, and not merely as voice communicators.

One thing worth noting, if it hasn’t been noted already somewhere at VFR, is the differences between how “flash mobs” of different races use the technology. Early flash mobs were based on text messaging and the clock, before the existence of “smart phones” like the iPhone connected to social networks like Facebook. They for the most part involved primarily white or Asian people doing something whimsical, like bursting into song in a train station or having 100 men each give a flower to a randomly chosen pretty woman. Once the “smart phones” and social networks came along and made it even more stupifyingly easy to generate and coordinate a flash mob, it became a phenomenon of primarily nonwhite flash mobs engaged in threatening and violent behavior toward white people.

LA replies:

So flash mobs were a civilized white activity taken over by blacks and made into a barbaric anti-white activity. Sort of the story of liberal society, ain’t it?

Also, I did refer to the original, genteel sort of “flash mob” yesterday.

Vern F. writes:

While in the Army way back in 1940, I prevented a “Nigger Bashin.” My, how times have changed!

In regard to your “Flash Mob” query: How about “Flash Bash?” Sounds catchy.

Ferg writes:

You wrote:

But maybe I’m being too restrictive, and “wilding” is the best word for this kind of behavior.

Hard to say. I was thinking of the Central Park incident myself when I brought it up. Some of these attacks I think would be much worse, except something scares them off before they escalate.

What a time we live in, fearful to use the streets of our own cities and the deserts of our own southwest. And none of it needs to be happening, none of it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 20, 2011 08:35 PM | Send

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