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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mob mentality: Vancouver, what happened?

Last night, Downtown Vancouver BC erupted in violence and looting after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final. Story here: (thanks to Brian King for the link)

I must say....I AM SO DISAPPOINTED. When we had riots here in Seattle in 1992 about the Rodney King verdicts ( , it was sort of understandable. I was still disappointed in our city back then, about the lack of emotional control that the citiziens of our city displayed. But, I have a few words for Vancouver:

 A GAME! JUST A GAME!Let me reiterate....I'm not disappointed at Vancouver as a city. I'm disappointed at the citizens that CHOSE to throw a temper tantrum just because their team didn't win. I'm disappointed in the women that crashed through stores and stole Coach bags and stole makeup and clothes. I disapointed in the people that didn't care that there were people that just wanted to get out of the riot area. We'd expect this type of behavior from 4 year olds that don't get what they want.....but grown adults. Come on.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm better than that and spout fortune cookie wisdom. I'm not going to sit here and type about how badly those riot mongers acted and try to give counsel and advice as to how the violence can be "controlled", nor will I spout off about "Its not about if you win or lose, its about how you play the game". You know why? Because we are HUMAN.

Anger is a secondary emotion. In the case of the Canucks loss, the fan's own disappointment (sadness?) played a big factor. Can you imagine?...after all the buildup of the Canucks making it to the finals, and playing on home turf....can you imagine wanting the victory so badly on your own turf that you could literally taste it? Then being soundly defeated on your turf? I'd be disappointed too! We're human and yes its natural to feel that disappointment.

But what separates rioters from those who can just move on, is how we process that disappointment. It is common for anger to rear its ugly head and cause us to want to inflict the same hurt and disappointment on someone else, or in this case, to destroy the streets of downtown Vancouver. The mob mentality is so easy to get sucked into. All it takes is just a few other people to do what you only think of doing....and if you see others doing it, then it tends to trick our brains into thinking that you now "have permission" to do the same ("if they can do it so can I"). There's a lot of news footage of people standing near burning cars and throwing you think they actually thought about the video proof that could land them in jail? Of course not....the only thing that mattered was letting loose of that anger about losing the Stanley Cup.

I'm sure that most of the people that were involved in the looting and violence, would never start such actions on their own. "Strength in numbers". But come on Vancouver brothers and sisters....looting is STEALING for gosh sakes. Vandalism is vandalism, doesn't matter that the Canucks lost and you think its okay that trashing the streets is justified.

This is why I practice martial allows me to remind myself to keep concentration on myself as well as everybody else. Having been a victim of my own anger and fury, I know how it can affect my critical thinking, problem solving skills, and awareness. I've said and done things out of anger that I've regretted ....and I know that I might give in to anger again. But I can only hope that I can recognized myself when I get to the fury point and "check myself before I wreck myself".

Is "mob mentality" necessarily a bad thing? Not really....depends on what type of mob mentality we're talking about. If a group of people are thinking positively and working toward a good goal, then people call it "Group Support". But if the group is feeding anger to each other, then we tend to call it "mob mentality". But in the end, the group thinking and the cohesiveness of the group is the same....they're both "mob mentality"....but its just a matter of what mentality we choose.

Positive Mob for me, please. :)