If Your Friends Jump off a Cliff, Would You Do It Too?

Kaitlin-Ann Mulligan @KaitlinAnnCM

On January 16 during a late night poll created by Eric Larriva fifty percent of students who voted on the poll were eager to learn about what dictates society’s social norms. What the students later found out the next day during Wednesday’s lecture was that the mob mentality (also referred to as the heard mentality) is ever present and continues to grow as a social norm within our society.

When class began on January 17, 2018 Kelli Matthews quickly went over our case study assignment. She then added how a person’s selection of the platform of media they use is based on their specific needs and goals with a purpose of fulfilling them. During this time, a poll questioning the amount of usage for new media gratification was conducted. Surprisingly with 50% of the voters stating they use this type of gratification only once or twice a day, while 38% use it more than three times a day, and only 13% consisted of those who would only use it a couple times a week.

The twitter live feed took a turn when the lecture started it’s end into the characteristics of networked publics with the topic of search-ability as we dove back into our past and realized that all of us were either lurkers or those who have been lurked.


@BreslerCaroline ‘s tweet on January 17 at 11:16am


@rherbstman13 ‘s tweet on January 17 at 11:20am


However, this was only the beginning to the bigger conversation. Scalability. “It was only meant for a couple people but then it got out of hand”. Although mob mentality is not considered bullying, this mentality does lead and fuel the concept of bullying as we have seen during class with the example of Justine Sacco’s supposedly satirical tweet.



We learned that this tweet was only meant for the few hundred people who followed the account but that it quickly increased its reach and became top news all while she was in her 11-hour flight from London to Cape Town. People began to interact directly with the tweet causing its further spread. Within hours the the confusion turned into anger and mob mentality had begun as she was being verbally attacked.

The idea of mob mentality is well known in our society and can be seen almost everywhere. We have had first hand experience with it, seen it happen online, and even watched shows that had incidents of it.


@jordynvolk ‘s tweet on January 17 at 11:47am


This phenomenon causes individuals’ identity to disappear causing anonymity. People who become part of a larger community, especially online, tend to lose all sense of responsibility and forget about their individual actions by thinking its invisible or drowned out in the group of louder voices. This can lead to the numerous individuals disassociating themselves from the real world once they are behind a screen, making them capable of doing or saying anything.


Statistics from Live Feed:

Tweets: 100

  • 81 Original Posts
  • 4 Replies

Reach: 17,002

Participants: 45

Impressions: 100,000+

Polls Taken: 2


This Article Has 2 Comments
  1. Stacia says:

    Thanks for the post Kaitlin-Ann! Looking back on the Justine Sacco scandal, I am left perplexed. People feel they have a voice on social media that they don’t have in “real-life”. This can be great as it gives introverts a platform for discussion. However, for those saying hurtful or ignorant things, this causes some larger implications. It’s great that people were able to tell Justine just how insensitive her tweet was, however, those same individuals lacked the compassion that Justine lacked. When Justine landed and eventually tried to issue an apology do you think she really changed as a person? I have a hard time believing that the comments she received were insightful enough to make her realize what she said was wrong. This continues to be an issue and something we are going to have to learn to manage as social media continues to grow as a popular form of communication.

  2. Touching back to the Justine Sacco case, it was mentioned in class whether or not the people responding to what Justine tweeted was or wasn’t bullying. In my opinion even though those people voiced their opinion and joined as a community to let her know she was wrong definitely bullied her. There comments were negative and hurtful. Even though it seems like the right thing to do, the multiple accounts that responded has negative feedback. That makes them no better than her. Instead those should not hide behind their screens, and give positive reinforcement in her situation. Or to avoid the whole controversy, do not let the stupidity of the tweet become something more than it is. As a community we tend to focus on the immature and dumb things that happen in the world. If we do not pay attention or do not blow the situation out of proportion we can avoid hurting people that may just want attention.

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