Daily Archives: August 11, 2010

Lynch Mob

The other day I read through the comments left on a news website regarding the two missing 2 year olds.  Some were heartfelt prayers to the family.  Others bordered on abuse toward the parents.

At one point a commenter got particularly nasty.  Subsequent comments condemned the mothers–each one worse than the last.  Then, a brave soul chastized those for their behavior toward a grieving family and the tides turned.

I am not going to pass judgement either way, nor do I want to discuss the horrors that awaited those little boys or the parents who are left to bear the lifelong pain of their losses.

I do, however, call attention to the lynch mob mentality and how easily people are swayed by their own anonymity and someone else’s vocalness. 

This is a gruesome trait of human nature that helps no one and hurts many.  However, it is one we experience on the playground, around the lunch table, at the water cooler and in the break room.  We aren’t too old or too young to fall victim of someone else’s convictions.

A prime example of using this tool for literary purposes is The Oxbow Incident.  I haven’t read the book since highschool, but it made such an impact on my life and how I viewed the way we control, or don’t, our own emotions and convictions that I have never forgotten the story and the vigilante mob that persecuted innocent people. 

I often wonder how often our civilized world is guilty of perpetuating this behavior.

What literary examples have you read that tap into the mob mentality?  Have you used this trait in any of your writing?