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Why Do Flash Mobs Move Us?

The word “mob” provokes mixed emotions.  Traditionally, “mobs” were a group of angry individuals gathered together in protest, often manifesting into riots. But the term “flash mob” is a gathering of people who unite for the purpose of creating happiness and joy. It is, according to Wiki-pedia, a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.

The first documented flash mob was organized in Manhattan in 2003, and was said to be coordinated as a social experiment by the editor of Harper’s Magazine. Participants gathered at four different staging areas where they received instructions and held practice.  It wasn’t until the day of the actual flash mob that a specific location was revealed to them (to insure that the surprise wasn’t leaked).

This curiosity continues to captivate us as thousands of random strangers coordinate these gatherings through social media on a daily basis.  Many performances achieve national attention via television and the web and hit viral status. But why are we drawn to such an experiment?  The answer may lie in how we are emotionally affected by them.

Watch spectator’s faces as wonder lights up their eyes.  Kids look as if it is Christmas morning all over again with the surprise in their eyes as they realize they are witnessing something truly incredible.  Many times the spectators will join in the fun and start singing or dancing along.  And for many of us, this emotional awakening will cue the waterworks.  Why do flash mobs make us cry?  Perhaps it’s witnessing such a huge, diverse group coming together and creating a spectacle of music and dance just for the pleasure of strangers. Perhaps it’s that we are exposed to others experiencing a freedom.  Or maybe it’s simply the unity of these happy pranksters.  Whatever it is, if it makes you cry, you’re not alone, it seems to be a common (and rather unexplainable) phenomenon.

Flash Mobs wake us up and transform one ordinary moment of commuting, shopping, or walking into a moment of JOY, celebration, love, and connection.  It reminds us all that we are the same inside. The ordinary guy busy on his phone, the woman adjusting her stroller, and the old man eating lunch are really all in on the same flash mob mission.  Seeing how we are all intertwined warms the heart.

Perhaps you have or will witness a flash mob first-hand and uncover the secret for yourself.  Until then, we wanted to share some of our favorites with you:

1.)  Food court surprise: 40 million views!!

2.)  Holiday shopping:

3.)  Train station “Sound of Music” (performed by young girls):

4.)  A full orchestra convenes at a plaza in Spain:

5.) People on a beach boardwalk get some love:


Why do you think flashmobs are so moving?  Tell us!