By Seana Sperling
In the new millennium, we have seen trends in group behavior: Flash mobs, Smart mobs, Zombie races, Zombie this, that and whatever. (One has to wonder about the popularity of the Zombie, a creature who cannot think, but only destroy.) These trends appeal to people’s desire to be accepted and have fun as a group, but also show their desire to conform. We have seen many follow group behavior in a fun and entertaining way, however, a very negative form of group behavior has evolved over the last ten years.
Take for example the students in Newfane, NY who organized a day to annoy one of their classmates on a newly created Facebook page. The title of the page was Day to Annoy (student’s name). http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/10/28/Students-organized-day-of-bullying/UPI-60891288285612/ . The plan was to stalk the student throughout the school all day and bait him/harass him. (Many involved in cyberbaiting will film the reaction, so they can later post it online. Was Facebook to be their forum for such an act?) Fortunately, a few independent thinkers blew the whistle on the bullies and they were stopped before they could do more damage to the student.
On my campus, where I am an Advisor, much the same is happening to some of our students, to Instructors in their classrooms and it has been happening to me. Who are the players? Some are colleagues, some are students and some are their neo-conservative host families or just random Neighborhood Watch/InfraGard snitches from the community.
If you have a very skilled gossip (Troll), this person can manipulate a group to stalk and harass/bait an innocent person. For example one of my students was stalked and bullied all over campus by a group of students who were manipulated by one young woman who had a grudge against the student. The group would wait outside of the student’s classrooms and then bait her constantly all over campus (group stalking) trying to get her to fight back and thus get her into trouble (set-ups). This is called mobbing and my student had been made into a scapegoat by the gossip. Be careful whose lead you follow.
In another instance an Instructor said something condemning military action in a certain country during class one day. One of the students went on attack verbally in the classroom and later rallied many others to issue death threats anonymously via the Internet as well as post other anonymous threats on the Instructor’s office door.
It is amazing how people can be manipulated into violating others rights so easily. Not only was the first amendment violated, but death threats are beyond even civil law. When a mob gathers and they can do something anonymously, they abandon their integrity and common sense. Simon Says, “Everyone, stand on your head.”
Take this Community Alert System that demands that if you see a person, don’t approach them, but call into a number and report your location. The local News has even promoted this program of organized snitches. Why don’t people question this obvious abuse of civil rights? The Fourth and Sixth amendments among others are being violated, let alone stalking laws. This type reporting is monitoring, but also organized stalking.
If the police do not like your No War sign or did not your Impeach Bush sign or an article that you wrote about them, they can tell the community that you are a criminal, crazy or some other threat to society and without your knowledge, you can appear on the Community Alert List.
People that don’t question anything can be manipulated into tracking your every move as well as baiting you or setting you up to try to get you into trouble. In both Target and Office Max some clerks deliberately did not remove the security tags on my purchases, so that they would ring when I tried to exit. Thus I would be under the surveillance cameras at the door with the clerk checking my bags. In the Office Max incident, it was the manager who rang up my purchase, an inkjet refill and neglected to take off the large security box it was encased in. I had no idea that it wasn’t just packaging. Then as it rang at the door, he and two of his clerks stood there under the surveillance camera. As a result of this, I have been called “Thief,” on the street (along with much other slander). This is part of the Community Alert/Community TIPS/snitch debacle.
One woman that lived in my building in 2007 was one of these community snitches. Empowered by her role as an elementary school Teacher, she was there to serve and protect, she thought. I asked her about the community program and shouldn’t the snitches at least ask the person if it were true. She said, “They (sic-the accused) would just deny it anyway.” So, what the Sixth Amendment was meant to protect against (silent slander, whisper campaigns) has been completely thrown down the chute because some corrupt individuals in authority positions are able to manipulate the community.
It reminds me of the film, Compliance. Synopsis: A busy restaurant manager receives a call from someone identifying himself as a police officer and claims an employee has robbed a customer. The manager is manipulated into holding and searching the employee for hours. This was based on a true story. Simon says, “Accuse and search the employee.”
Even real Law Enforcement can be manipulated by an angry mob who constantly call in to report on someone they have been manipulated into hating. The Tip Submit Program to anonymously report on someone can be used against innocent people by the unscrupulous or even by an overzealous Neighborhood Watch. In 2005 a female colleague (a very bad bully) bragged to me that she had reported on me to some high-ranking security official, but refused to tell me what she had said. I never saw her again after that and have no idea about the accusation.
This organized snitch system is horribly wrong. Also, the snitches appear to be hounding innocent people. They don’t question anything. They do not ask the person if whatever has been said, is true. Instead, they merely follow. Simon says, “Don’t ask questions.”
Don’t be manipulated by what you see on the Internet or what someone tells you, no matter who they are. Check the facts. Remember. That one Internet Troll can create false websites, false police reports, false dating ads, etc. to vilify an innocent person. Then the troll’s followers can sidle up to some random people on the street, show them the report (or whatever has been posted online) on their phone along with the person’s picture and turn a complete stranger against the target. For example, Saturday afternoon 1/10/15 one older white woman got out of her minivan and screamed at me about “violating parole.” I thought, “Huh?,” and looked around, but, I was the only other person on this residential block. There is no parole or criminal record, etc. In the past when I have asked these bullies why they would say such things to me, they generally just skitter off or say they were talking to someone else. It could be baiting or she could actually have believed the slander.
The Zombie is a symbol of a controlled figure; A figure that cannot think independently. It is only driven for one thing, to destroy. Shouldn’t we have a better symbol? Wake up Zombies! Ask questions. Definitely question anyone who is vilifying another or tells you to do physical or psychological harm to another. It may seem like a small thing to you, but it is detrimental to the person being bullied.