The first time was pretty cool. The year was 2003, the location midtown New York City. Out of nowhere, a hundred people showed up on the ninth floor of Macy's, all gathered around the same piece of merchandise. For anyone asking, the answer was the same: They lived together in a warehouse outside the city, made all their decisions by consensus, and were looking for a "love rug".
If only it ended there.
But flash mobs, as they were soon dubbed, were destined to take a restive nation (and world) by storm. Perhaps it was the excitement of premeditation, or the exhilaration of public spectacle, or the novelty of using new media to make stuff--albeit pointless stuff--happen in the actual world.
Whatever it was, it didn't take long until a clever idea became derivative, and for a derivative idea to become corporatized. Here, for example, is a very elaborate commercial for a cell phone company:
Once a form of expression reaches such a slick, expensive zenith, it is time for young, creative-minded people to come up with new forms of expression. That is the role they play in society. And especially so here in Seattle, hub of forward-thinking, innovative and new-creative people. But that is not what is happening. To name just two of many examples, last year there was this Glee-themed flash mob downtown:
And in January, this unfortunate spectacle at Seattle University:
Which brings us to the events of yesterday at UW, for which, mercifully, there is no video available. As explained to The Daily by a man with a title of "flash mob adviser", a group of students gathered in Red Square, and, drizzle be damned, stood motionless. For five minutes.
Unlike other flash mobs, this one had a purported purpose (other than selling cell phone service contracts). The students were aiming to raise awareness of disabilities. Which, of course, is admirable. It's just that, how to say this nicely? OK.
Flash mobs are not cool. They have not been cool for nearly eight years. It is time for a new creative outlet. That is all.