postheadericon KUIRE KO KURA: When Flash Mobs Attack...

When I first saw the headline on a recent CNN video, When Flash Mobs Attack, I flashed back to all the other attacks that have used this tag line, like: when bears attack, when ice dams attack, when aliens attack, when patents attack – all just a few of the dozens you can find in a simple Google search for “When [fill in the blank] attack.”

But after watching the CNN video that describes the very recent trending of flash mobs, I sobered up.

Coming in the wake of the British looting and burnings, this American format is just as disturbing to watch. Philadelphia, Chicago, and small town Maryland are just a few sites of recent American flash mobs. For those of you not hip to social media lingo, a flash mob is just a group of youth getting together via Twitter or Facebook messages.

First described as a “harmless and fun fad”, flash mobbing has now turned “dangerous” according to CNN. However, the CNN video shows a large group of youths walking calmly through a 7-Eleven, picking up items as if shopping, and then just not choosing to pay.
There is even one scene where a flippant teen knocks something off the shelf during the looting, but a girl behind him takes the time to pick the items off the floor and place them back on the shelf, as if to say, “Don’t be a messy looter.”

The video drones on with talking heads trying to make sense of this new form of teen violence: is it race, is it religion (or lack of), is it austerity, is it like London, is it poverty?

Just as with the recent riots across the pond in England, the word “poverty” keeps popping up like an annoying internet advert. Now, I don’t know where commentators living in the west get their definition of poverty, but from where I sit in KTM, poverty does not equal teens wearing Nike, Gap, and Old Navy. Heck, just to participate in a flash mob one needs the latest in Blackberry, iPhone, or Nokia; with a data plan to boot. So no, I don’t think poverty is the issue here.

But what is at issue is the health of the nations in question, when a country’s most basic potential (its young) behave in such a manner, for no overt reason whatsoever. I know, now I sound like my father when he looked at me with my long hair, bell-bottoms, and half-hidden bag of weed in my hip pocket.

But back then (yes, in the olden days) we were rebelling against “the man,” the establishment, the oppressors of the working class, the evil empires that we were all destined to eventually become part, and someday retire from.

Just what is it that these modern day rebels are trying to say, via tweets and posts and mobs online? I’m not sure, just as the CNN talking heads are not sure, but something has certainly turned sour in paradise.

So I did what I always do when confused. I asked my wife, who is Nepali through and through: “Do you see the kids here doing that?”

“No, Nepali kids are not that stupid. And street kids don’t have cell phones.”

And as always, the wisdom of a Nepali woman astounds. It is stupidity, and the stupidity of parents, community leaders, and elected officials of some of the greatest nations on the planet, who are unable to figure out how to properly raise children in the 21st century.

On this realization, I had to reflect on how children are raised in this country, where folks literally don’t have a pot to piss in, where children learn to read on wooden benches and dirt floors, using candles to study for exams, and all I can say is this to anyone who has children in the west:

When flash mobs attack, move to Nepal.


first published in "THE WEEK" on Friday, August 19, 2011

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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