Harper's senior editor and author Bill Wasik came by the studio yesterday to talk about the great liberties of the Internet, nano-narratives, short attention spans and flash mobbing a gigantic Toys"R"Us dinosaur.
Flash mobs came out of Wasik's desire to unite people in an offline viral way for no reason at all.
They've happened all over the world after he organized the first one in New York in 2003. A mix of performance art and social experimentation, flash mobs organize people to stage, say, a pillow fight or a mass human freezing in the middle of Grand Central Station. They last ten minutes or less and then the flash mobbers disperse into the ether of public space.
Nevertheless, in their non-agenda, flash mobs have drawn attention to the rigid behavioral norms that govern public space in America. Just try to get thirty people to bow down in front of a large toy dinosaur in a mall and see if onlookers don't notice. Or police don't show up.
"A lot of flash mobs happen in public space or semi-public space where you're allowed to come in as someone who's just going to shop, for example, but when you try to express yourself in any way act, when you try to do anything that's outside of the so-called prescribed things you do in that space, then suddenly you're considered a trespasser," Wasik elaborated.
If you are considering a flash mob of your own, you have Wasik's hearty encouragement. Here's how it's done:
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Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.
- In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
- The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
- Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.
- Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
- Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
- The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
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