Social unrest can cause people to turn out in droves. Crowds gather to seek answers and make sure that officials are aware of their concerns. What may start out as a peaceful protest can quickly turn into an out-of-control angry mob, simply because they don’t get the answers they want.
Mobs are interesting. People in a mob will act and react much differently than they will at other times. Otherwise peaceful, law-abiding citizens can quickly turn angry and violent, committing atrocities as they express their displeasure in not finding answers. Together, those people are capable of doing anything, of committing the most heinous crimes.
What happens to these people to make them act this way? Psychologists refer to it as the “mob mentality.” In a nutshell, it’s that people lose their personal identity in the mob, taking on the personality of the mob. Since mobs are largely anonymous places, they lose their inhibitions to commit crime, as nobody can identify them. Quite literally, the members of the mob take on the character, personality and emotions of the mob, be they good or bad.
Angry mobs will beat people, overturn cars, set vehicles on fire, loot, steal and commit vandalism. The individual members are fairly secure that they won’t be prosecuted, as it is hard to identify them in the mob. That anonymity is what causes their inhibitions to come down.
Most people are not really all that far-removed from the savagery of our ancestors. What makes them civilized is the threat of punishment. As long as that threat is there, they behave; but if you take it away, they return to savagery. This can cause domestic abuse, as well as causing mob violence.
If you find yourself caught in a mob situation, your first problem will be to avoid getting caught up in that mob mentality. Becoming a part of that mob could be dangerous, causing you to become violent and commit crimes that you will have to live with the rest of your life. On the other hand, not being part of the mob can be dangerous, as well, as they will often turn on anyone who is not one of them. So, while you don’t want to get caught up in the mob mentality, you want to appear as if you are part of the group.
Fitting in with the mob could be your greatest protection from the mob. For instance, if everyone is yelling, then you yell, too. If they shake their fists, make sure yours is up in the air, too. If they run down the street, start running along with them; just make sure that you run slower than they do.
Don’t become part of any of the violent acts that the mob performs. You can’t stop them from doing what they are going to do, so don’t try.
You will have to work your way out of the mob; but you will need to do so slowly. Any obvious move to leave could turn you into a target. So, you don’t want to just walk away from the mob, cutting across the group to the nearest exit. Instead, you want to work your way gradually, bit by bit, going from one point to another, trying to get to the edge of the mob, without seeming to do so. One way you can do this is to pretend to be moving closer to a friend that you spot in the mob. Another is to pretend to move to a vantage point where you can see better.
It is easiest to work your way towards the edge of the mob if it is moving. If they start to run, all you need to do is run slower, so that everyone passes you by. Eventually, you’ll find yourself at the back of the mob, with everyone else pulling away from you. Run on a bit more, but soon you’ll be able to stop.
Mobs that are moving down the street offer similar opportunities. As you move forward with the mob, you can gradually work your way towards the side of the street, moving diagonally across the movement of the mob. Eventually, you’ll find a safe place where you can duck out of the mob. Any store, alleyway or dark entrance to an apartment building is likely to work as a point of exit in such a situation.
Once you actually leave the mob, you’ll want to get out of sight immediately. That’s why entering a store is so good; as you enter the store, you leave the mob behind. They will flow past the store as if it were a solid wall, probably not even noticing the door that you went through.
Often, mobs are fueled by cell phones. You may find people calling, texting and taking pictures all around you. They are inviting friends to join in with them. However, you can use that to your advantage. Use their activity to camouflage you pulling out your cell phone to let someone know where you are, so they can come to pick you us.
You need to be careful about this. You don’t want your friend to come to where you are, but rather to go to a point a couple of blocks outside the mob’s area of operations, where they can get in and out quickly and easily. You’ll need to get to where they are on your own. Once there, they can whisk you away to a safer location.
Whatever you do, don’t lose your head. You’re going to have to remain cool and collected, while you are acting just as crazy as everyone else, in order to get away. If you lose your head, you might find yourself losing a whole lot more.