Monday, May 01, 2017

Attack Of The Offendotrons: Tyranny Of The Flash Mob

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This, at least, has been known for a while, partly because it’s psychologically satisfying for those who indulge. Aldous Huxley observed that the surest way to work up a crusade in favour of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behaviour “righteous indignation” — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.
We need to pull the offendotrons up short. They’re undermining civil society, wrecking lives, and making it impossible for people to maintain any distinction between public and private life.
That said, it’s worth investigating why long-established principles — like not mistaking employees for their employer unless they are directly engaged in the performance of duties for their employer — are under threat.
Oxford philosopher Jeffrey Ketland points out mobs amplify their power or strength in three ways. First, they use social media to increase their number, a form of proxy recruitment; second, they deliberately seek institutional power in universities, corporate HR departments, and unions; and third, they generate emotional and moralistic outrage about trivialities because humans are prone to instantaneous, furious responses. The individual who says ‘ask me what I think tomorrow’ is rare.

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