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In The Arena Of Public Opinion, The Mob Rules

Today’s society is as democratic as ever, at least where the internet is concerned. This isn’t necessarily a good thing …

Good morning! This is your Random Truth (RANT) bulletin with your random food for thought.

Today’s topic: Those with that thing up their thing that makes them do that thing where they fire their mouths with impunity about people firing their mouths inappropriately, all the while pretending they’ve got the right to judge everyone in the court of public opinion.

It’s a shame, because it creates a mob society — a construct that demands justice on a whim

Let me elaborate. Our society has become very uptight lately, all in the name of propriety and cool. Whatever one does passes through the sieve of public opinion, suffering endless scrutiny. If it happens to cross the line of some unwritten set of rules, if it offends a person or group, if it transgresses the norm of appropriate behavior, whatever that means, all hell breaks loose. People go up in arms, demanding an apology, or the scalp of the perpetrator, subsiding only when they get one of either, or both.

Sometimes the reaction is justified and an apology is necessary. People say stupid or inappropriate things, for which they ought to be held accountable. Other times a person’s statement is taken out of context, misunderstood, misapplied and misconstrued. Public opinion overreacts, demanding an apology when one shouldn’t be given.

Sad part, the latter. People are forced to apologize no matter what was said or done. They don’t get to argue their way out of their predicament, because you can’t fight the crowd. Everyone knows this. If the public thinks you’re wrong, you just roll with it, say you’re sorry and move on.

It’s a shame because it creates a mob society — a construct that demands justice on a whim, dragging society into its emotional cesspool.

‘Win the crowd,’ Proximo told Maximus in the classic film Gladiator. ‘Win the crowd and you’ll win your freedom.’

By freedom, of course, Proximo meant liberty. He, like Maximus, was a slave, who needed to do what he had to to set himself free. So what if he sold his soul to a mindless mob who needed to be entertained? Being free from his owners was more important than playing along to the masses for a few hours a day.

Fast forward two thousand years to the present and you’ll realize that our day and age isn’t all that different from Ancient Rome

Fast forward two thousand years to the present and you’ll realize that our day and age isn’t all that different from Ancient Rome. We are an imperious and sophisticated society struggling to come to terms with our grandeur, battling it out in an arena rife with old religions and modern insight, bursting with conservatives and liberals, with zealots and agnostics at constant odds with one another, trying to make sense of the conflicting information, navigating our way through our cognitive polyphasia, defining ourselves through our foreign wars and our domestic entertainment, always in need to please the fickle, ravenous crowd with our endless bread and games, games, mostly games, because the bread is running out, as are the organizers’ ways to keep the crowd happy.

Enter Social Media, the mob’s favorite weapon. For all the good this latest form of communication have done to our culture and organization, about which we have written aplenty, there’s also a downside to them. Social media have become the way by which people make or break those who entertain them. If what they see in the arena pleases them, up go the thumbs and the gladiators are rewarded, getting to live and fight another day, having sold their soul to the crowd, of course.

If, on the other hand, the gladiators happen to displease the crowd in any way, however slightly or minutely, up go the arms and down go the thumbs. The gladiators must kneel and ask for forgiveness from the imperial crowd, who usually grant it, most times not immediately but at a later stage, forgetting the transgression and focusing on the entertainment again.

But should a gladiator dare to display a sense of individuality, should he or she have the gall to stand up and defend what he or she did, to argue his or her way through, then down comes the executioner’s blade and a career goes down the drain.

Yes, there’s a limit to democracy, an expiration date, and we seem to be reaching it

For those among us who have had to deal with the rumblings of a mindless mob, you know what a disgrace it is to have to roll with the punches of irrationality, all in the name of ‘propriety,’ ‘decorum,’ ‘political correctness,’ ‘sensitivity,’ ‘the norm,’ and a bunch of other hijacked terms. For those who know their history, or are eager to find out more about it, not to mention the future toward which our past hints, this is both an illuminating clue as well as a disturbing caveat for what lies ahead. Nothing erodes the foundation of a culture more insidiously than the fickle opinion of the mob, the likes of which we are entertaining today. Yes, there’s a limit to democracy, an expiration date, and we seem to be reaching it, aided by the whims of democratic entertainment, among other things, the likes of which our mobs are projecting onto our civilization.

I believe this is why a famous man once said, Democracy is not a perfect or permanent solution. It’s the honeymoon phase that follows the occasional marriage of revolution and inclusive opportunity. No matter how ideal it may be, it loses its appeal sooner or later by degenerating to raucous ochlocracy (the rule of the mob).

And then you wonder why iron hands rise up to take control of the situation.

From the RANT headquarters,

Have a nice day!