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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Why I Think Mob Mentality Isn't Always A Good Thing

We're continuing our special month long feature "YOU NEVER NOVEMBER WHAT YOU'RE GONNA GET" with a special edition WHO AM I THURSDAY entry.

It's kind of a throwback to the days in which I used to do Thursday Diary entries.

Anyway...for today's entry, I admittedly will be making this more of an opinion piece than anything really to do about myself.  And, admittedly, this is about a news story that has made headlines in Canadian press over the last two weeks.

Now, for those of you who have been following along with Canadian media the last couple of weeks, you probably know about the scandal that has surrounded CBC, as well as former CBC poster boy Jian Ghomeshi. 

Ghomeshi was the host and co-creator of the radio program "Q", a radio show largely dealing with arts and entertainment in Canada, but also touches upon political and national news as well.  Prior to hosting "Q", he was a member of the band Moxy Fruvous.  Ghomeshi was definitely one of the most respected media figures of his era and he was definitely good at his job.

But on October 28, 2014, the news came out that Ghomeshi had been terminated from his job with the CBC, and in the next few days, the reason why he had been fired was one that a lot of people didn't want to believe at first.  It started with one person coming forward, then another.  Before you knew it, you had nine women accusing Ghomeshi of abusing them and beating them up when they dated him.

I've kept quiet about my own thoughts on the subject.  Really, I never claimed to be a Moxy Fruvous fan, nor do I remember ever listening to a single episode of "Q".  And really, this whole point of view isn't about Ghomeshi himself because to me, it could really be any sort of public figure in the same position. 

Rather, I want to focus on some of the responses that I have seen on social media, comments posted below news articles, and other general points of interest that I have noticed as the scandal continues to play out.

November 6, 2014

You know, one thing that I have always hated about modern-day society is something that is known as "mob mentality".  Mob mentality is the phrase used to describe people who adopt trends, purchase items, or take on personality traits from a large group of like-minded people.

Mob mentality is kind of similar to peer pressure in a way, only I find it to be a lot more damaging to society - particularly if the mob is both passionate and/or angry.

Certainly when it comes to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal that has erupted, everybody in the country seems to have an opinion on the subject.  I mean, it isn't very often that a scandal of this magnitude occurs within Canadian borders.  When something like this happens in Canada, naturally it gets everyone talking.  After all, with our population being a tenth of the size of the United States, we tend to be a quieter bunch by nature.

As far as Jian Ghomeshi goes, the only person who can confirm what happened and what didn't happen is Ghomeshi himself.  And as of right now, he isn't talking.  So, instead, the focus has shifted from Ghomeshi himself towards the nine women who have now come forward, making their claims that Ghomeshi abused them both physically and sexually while they were out on dates with him. 

These women came from a variety of backgrounds.  One was a television actress.  Another was an attorney.  One was even a former CBC employee.  And over the past two weeks, nine of them came forward and made these allegations.

This is where my point of "mob mentality" comes into play.

Now, I am most definitely NOT using this phrase towards these women.  Let me get that clear.  I will explain why in a few moments.

No, I'm actually using this phrase towards the various news story commenters, Twitter posters, YouTube filmmakers, and everyday Canadians who have flip-flopped their opinions based on what public opinion seemed to dictate.  And, honestly I find this practice extremely frustrating.

In the early days of the scandal, only a couple of women had come forward with the news that they had been abused by Jian Ghomeshi.  And, certainly many people believed them to be simply allegations.  And you know, when scandals initially break out involving public figures, it is natural for people to be completely confused and unable to decide who to believe. 

So, certainly you could imagine that when women began to come forward with their claims, people on social media platforms certainly had their own opinions.  Interestingly enough, when the scandal first broke, a large percentage of people took to social media to defend Ghomeshi, and made out like the women were vilifying him for attention, money, or fame.  Some of the comments that I read on some of these articles were brutal, with many people denouncing the women in public view.

To me, that is absolutely horrible. 

When the scandal broke, I purposely did not choose a side.  I waited to hear both sides of the argument before I made my mind up.  And, my thoughts on the subject now remain the same.  Until both sides are ready to talk, I can't really give much of an opinion.  Though given Ghomeshi's silence, and the fact that more women are coming forward with their own experiences...well, it certainly doesn't paint Ghomeshi in the most flattering colour.  That is all that I will say about that.

But now, here is where the mob mentality comes into play.  As the scandal continued and more people came forward with their claims that Ghomeshi had abused them, the tide turned.  Many people who were ardent Ghomeshi supporters started to unfollow him on social media, and began to take the sides of the accusers, claiming that the real story was coming out.  Many people even made public apologies to the women for not believing them from the very beginning. 

Now here is my question.  Did they change their stance because their heart told them it was the right thing to do?  Or did they simply start going for Ghomeshi's jugular because everybody else was now doing it and they didn't want to be attacked for taking on a now unpopular stance?

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is okay to change your mind about a person, place, thing, or any other category that "Wheel of Fortune" has puzzles based on if you feel that it is the right thing for you to do.  Blindly following a mob of people and believing everything they said because you are afraid of going against the crowd is not okay.  It can be one of the most destructive things that anyone can do.  Just look at what happened in Jonestown some thirty-five years ago when a group of people drank the Kool-Aid because some kook told them to?

I mean, the only exception that I can make in the case of mob mentality is doing something because you feel enough courage to do it because you see someone else doing it.  I know that sentence probably made you cringe while reading it, but go with it.  In the Ghomeshi case, not all nine women came forward at once.  It started with a couple.  Then another one.  Before you knew it, nine of them came forward with one common link.  And you know what?  That is strength as far as I am concerned.  It takes courage to make a stand like these nine women did, and in this case, there is safety in numbers.  All nine women went through the same thing, so they have an understanding that nobody else in the world had.

And yet, many of these women were subjected to being called liars, opportunistic, and career destroyers.  And yes, those were some of the adjectives used to describe them by anonymous Internet posters when the story first broke.  It almost seemed as though people jumped in with insults just because they saw other people doing it, and they felt that what they were doing was the right thing to do.

And when more women came forward and public opinion changed, those same people flipped the record really quickly because they saw other people doing it.  And yet these same people wonder why these women might have been afraid to come out and publicly tell their stories.

I guess my point is...if you have an opinion, stick with it, and don't let anyone else change it because you are afraid of confrontation.  I have a hard time taking people who waffle seriously, but that is just my own two cents.

Anyway, it is just something I noticed.

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