The psychologists call it “deindividuation”. It’s what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic deindividuation experiment concerned American children at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters were invited to take sweets left in the hall of a house on a table on which there was also a sum of money. When children arrived singly, and not wearing masks, only 8% of them stole any of the money. When they were in larger groups, with their identities concealed by fancy dress, that number rose to 80%. The combination of a faceless crowd and personal anonymity provoked individuals into breaking rules that under “normal” circumstances they would not have considered.
Deindividuation is what happens when we get behind the wheel of a car and feel moved to scream abuse at the woman in front who is slow in turning right. It is what motivates a responsible father in a football crowd to yell crude sexual hatred at the opposition or the referee. And it’s why under the cover of an alias or an avatar on a website or a blog – surrounded by virtual strangers – conventionally restrained individuals might be moved to suggest a comedian should suffer all manner of violent torture because they don’t like his jokes, or his face. Digital media allow almost unlimited opportunity for wilful deindividuation. They almost require it. The implications of those liberties, of the ubiquity of anonymity and the language of the crowd, are only beginning to be felt.
File this one under “oldies but goodies…?” This isn’t the first time we’ve hit 102 degree heat in the city — last year on July 6th the temperature was roughly the same, with threats of blackouts. Check out this handy guide! It’s really liquor-based, as Jen notes, because “What’s a blackout for, if not to get blackout-drunk?”
If memory serves, however, wasn’t the summer of 2010 was ridiculously hot throughout that reaching a hundred degrees didn’t seem quite so jarring? Or maybe we’re just making excuses to complain. Whatever, we’re gonna go get popsicles now. Boozy ones, maybe.
This video, also known as: the quickest way to induce a panic attack.
We may have just e-mailed our significant other this link and a single line: “WE NEED MORE BEER.”
i can’t believe i was jealous of the people in town for the last blackout. come on, ConEd, don’t fail us now…