The Rise of the Modern Mob Mentality and the Demise of Critical Thinking.

By Jack Ritt

I am a firm believer that there is good in everyone, and that yes, people are going to make mistakes and speak or act out of place without considering the consequences that follow their actions. I think we are guilty of this at some point or another in our lives, which is normal, and you could label it as “being human.” Unfortunately, with the rise and innovations in technology, specifically in social media, it seems more and more people are falling victim to speaking or acting without accounting for the consequences that will follow. I think we can subscribe to this trend to the rise of social media and how it has transformed and become a staple in almost every individual’s everyday life. 

Social media has provided us with lots of beneficial attributes, some of them including the instant spreading and sharing of news, faster and easier communication, networking, organic visibility, branding and many more. As it changed our lives in many positive ways, it has also adversely affected our lives in a very negative manner. Due to social media, we’ve seen the emergence of a new type of threat to our autonomy, which we call ‘Mob Mentality.’ The mob mentality is the idea that people group up and attack the minority opinion or any opinion that differs from that of the mass population. The concept isn’t new to humans, but how it occurs is where the issue resides. 

Mobs rise out of people who have similar ideas and thoughts group up and target those who have different opinions, but it’s shocking how easy it is for these groups of people to form. In a study conducted by The University of Leeds, they found that it only takes five percent of a group to influence the other 95 percent. This is scary and dangerous because it shows it doesn’t take much at all to influence the mass population and alter people’s ability to think for themselves critically. This is incredibly dangerous because many people who get affected by the mob don’t realize it, because, at the core, everyone wants to be accepted by the majority, leading to a halt in the public’s ability to produce original thoughts and have varying opinions. 

Additionally, the mob mentality affects and is taking away our autonomy to an extent. Not only does it influence how people think on a mass scale, by the nature of the internet and social media has caused a drop in people’s ability to think critically. The internet is so fast, and the conversation can change so quickly, people are quick to respond when prompted to, leading people to act in a way they probably wouldn’t if they took the time to sit back and think about the conversation and what they’re about to say. What further drives people’s inability to think critically why online is most individuals have the power of anonymity while having an online presence. This leads to people posting and saying vulgar and inexcusable things because they won’t ever be associated or held responsible for their actions. 

The modern mob mentality isn’t something we should take lightly, as it has already changed the way we act and go about our daily lives. If we’re not careful about how we handle the new mob, we are going to have an increasingly difficult time progressing as a society when the same few thoughts and ideas circulate the public. 

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “If everyone thinks alike, then no one is thinking.”

This Article Has 6 Comments
  1. Molly Garcia says:

    Mob mentality is an interesting concept. As someone who uses Twitter (among other social media, but I feel like Twitter has the largest presence of mob mentality), I can very clearly see what the majority opinion is on any given topic. I sometimes get worried about being attacked if I have a minority opinion, and do find that I sensor what I say in these situations. As mentioned in class, it can sometimes just be easier to sit out on the conversation than be ridiculed for having a separate opinion.

  2. Sarah Lovely says:

    I like the points you made here Jack! I have been fascinated with this mob mentality specifically on Twitter, because of the idea of “cancel culture.” YouTubers seem to get ‘canceled’ almost every other day on social media, and the rate at which people gather their pitchforks to tear them to shreds seems to grow quicker by the day. It’s interesting that you included the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “If everyone thinks alike, then no one is thinking” because it is an interesting idea to think about in contrast with the mob mentality and cancel culture. When people see others attacking someone online, it is clear by their baseless responses that they have done minimal research into the reason why they are even shaming that person in the first place. Instead, they are jumping on the bandwagon of hate rather than taking the time to think for themselves and formulate their own opinions. It is a vicious cycle of misunderstanding and conforming to the popular crowd.

  3. Yujun Mei says:

    In fact, the Internet has make people lose the sense of safety. When people speak their opinion, they are afraid of being attacked by others. Maybe the generation of mob mentality is due to the consideration of revenging. When someone was attacked or misunderstood by others, he tries to express his anger. Hence, he chooses to become a mob.

  4. Jacob Swinn says:

    I definitely agree with you on the fact that the mob mentality does/will have an impact on our society progressing. It’s interesting that others in this comment section have said that they even hold back on voicing their opinions at times when they feel like they have the minority opinion. This is a dangerous path; it is basically creating fear of being in the minority on potentially very important issues, and because social media is not going to go away, we as a society need to figure out ways to combat this mob mentality sooner rather than later.

  5. Caitlin Wahlers says:

    Jack, thank you for this piece I found it quite insightful and interesting.

    Throughout the piece, you make the argument that social media and the modern mob mentality have led to a drop in critical thinking. I’m curious about your thoughts because I wonder if the lack of critical thinking is actually at the heart of this discussion. From my perspective, critical thinking is a skill that must be developed over time through either education or lived experiences. We assume that critical thinking is a universal trait, but alas many individuals have not been afforded the educational privileges, and others need to address significant barriers before practicing critical thinking. Without a solid foundation, it is easy for people to concede to the mob mentality, and as we are learning in class with regards to the Spiral of Science, the use of social media nearly reflects in-person interactions.

  6. Jacob Swinn says:

    I think it’s scary that one of the commenters on here admitted that they keep their opinions to themselves if they think they will have a minority opinion, all based on the fact that the faceless Twitter mob will attack them. While it may not seem like a big deal because it’s happening on Twitter, this type of things happens in real life as well (having been a high school teacher, I have seen first-hand how many students don’t want to voice their opinion because they know they will be judged for it). I’m not sure what the solution for this is, but it is definitely something that we as a society need to fix.

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