Guidelines For Participating in Flash Mobs

We’ve created following guidelines, by adapting those from the Sydmob website, for people to follow to make our mobs as enjoyable and effective as possible.

The Organisation

When going to a flashmob, the mobbers would have received some simple instructions by email sent out the night before or that morning to inform them where they need to be, and at what time. Also usually another instruction is given, to locate an individual who will pass onto them via a slip of paper the next set of instructions which would contain all the info they need to know for what is required of them at that particular flashmob. The instruction given for locating them could be something as simple as looking in a certain area for a person (male or female) wearing a white pair of pants and a green hat or perhaps even carrying a certain book. The first given instruction may not actually contain the information a mobber would expect; it could be yet another instruction to locate yet another person who has the information they actually need.

The Mob

To successfully pull off a FlashMob just right, the mobbers need to learn the subtle art of blending in with the rest of the general public. Now this might not sound like a big deal, but it’s pretty important and a very vital part of any attempt at a mob. We’ve all seen those cornball movies where actors are trying to be inconspicuous but end up doing exactly the opposite (scarf, dark glasses.. you get the general idea) That’s not the kind of “Act casual” effect we’re aiming for.

Basically, at sometime during the FlashMob you will find yourself in a situation where for a short duration you will be gathered in an area about to go into the main part of the Flash Mobbing itself (the act) It’s at this time that you may be in close proximity with other fellow mobbers and the following will help you “keep your cool”, so to speak:

– When you’re waiting in the area where the act is about to take place, act as you normally would.

It really is that simple. If you’re sitting, sit as you normally would do in any other given situation where you are sitting in a public place. Standing ? Yep, you got it. Same deal.

– Conversing with other mobbers/friends/strangers

Now this is a bit of a grey area really. I mean, it would be pretty stupid to try and encourage people NOT to talk with friends in a public place. After all, that’s what you would normally do, right ? As for strangers, well if someone asks you the time, do what you would normally do (long as that isn’t punch them in the face) Talk about anything – just don’t start up a conversation about Flash Mobbing. Common sense really. If you are having a conversation try not to be too distracted from watching the clock.

– Attempt to not “mob” too early

What this means is try to make room between yourself and other mobbers. Seeing a group of people who are supposed to be strangers (well.. ok for the record most of you WILL be strangers, but you get what I mean) bunched up together will perhaps give a passerby the impression that you and the people standing near on top of you are a mob of friends. This is something we all want to avoid at all costs. So if you are with a bunch of friends, do separate away from each other as much as possible. It certainly won’t ruin the mobbing experience for you, and you all can get together afterwards and give each other your own personal account of what you saw from where you were when the act and eventual disperse happened.

– Converge to the area from random directions

This one ought to be pretty obvious already. Seeing people heading up a public street in mass looks like a crowd of people not only who most probably know each other personally, but also look to be headed somewhere with a purpose. That’s a big no no right there. What you would need to do is plan from which direction you will be coming from to reach the area and also observe how many people seem to be heading in the direction as well. If there already appears to be people taking the same route, take a few extra twists and turns. Also put some distance between yourself and others. But remember to once again keep an eye on the clock. Time is of the essence.

– Don’t arrive too early and don’t arrive too late

This is probably the most important thing to remember. For the flashmob to have the best impact, It’s all a matter of timing. The instructions will have specific time or action cues to make sure everyone in the mob acts as one.

The Disperse

From the accounts of anyone that has participated in a FlashMob, its the actual end of the whole planned act that really leaves the impact on both those involved and those watching. Witnessing a large group of complete strangers suddenly come together and perform a pre-written instruction in itself is impressive enough, but seeing those same people suddenly leave the area in totally random directions acting like nothing actually took place is where the real fun begins. Heres some guidelines for the disperse:

– If you are attending a mob with either a partner or a large group of friends, organize to meet at a designated spot after the act has taken place. Preferably this spot should be far enough away so that people who have just witnessed the event don’t put 2 and 2 together.

– When the act is over, disperse from the area at the allocated cue (this could be be some action or at a certain time) outlined in the instructions handed to you by the organizer. Choose a direction and leave *alone*. This cannot be stressed enough.

– Try and not converse with anyone when you are leaving the area, fellow mobbers and especially spectators. If someone really wants to ask what happened, shrug and deny any knowledge. What just took place didn’t actually take place at all.

– There has been reports at some mobs that participants have suddenly gone into a round of applause at the end of the act just before the disperse happens. This is a big no no as it will alert the general public to the fact that this was an actual planned activity and that we all probably know each other.

– When the disperse happens, leave the area in a calm and sensible manner. When you have a group of people which could reach over 100 it’s never a good idea to initiate a mass stampede, the threat of injury happening is quite real.

– Leave nothing behind but the lasting effect on the minds of your fellow mobbers and the witnessing general public.

All in all, most of those points should be pretty easy to understand and in practice will become second nature. Hopefully no one will be interpreting these as “rules” that will be enforced upon people by scary burly men with no necks. No, not all. These are simply more guidelines for people to follow so their flashmob experience will be a good one.