Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recently in the news I have been seeing a lot of stories on ‘flash mobs’ that have taken a turn for the worse. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought flash mobs were meant to be something fun and unexpected.

I wasn’t sure, so to satisfy my curiosity I looked up the definition of Flash Mob. Here is what I found; defines Flash Mob as: ‘a large group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration.’

Please note the word entertaining. Nowhere does it mention, violent or hatred acts.

I mention this because recently in Maryland, two dozen teenagers gathered at a Seven-Eleven at 1:36 am and robbed it within 60 seconds. In Philadelphia, upwards to 200 teens have been gathering for random acts of violence via “flash mob” technique. The International Business Times website writer Daniel Tovrov stated, “A flash mob occurred on July 29, when about 30 teenagers near City Hall severely beat two people, leaving one unconscious and the other needing surgery for a broken jaw. In June, some gangs attacked pedestrians and people leaving restaurants while others robbed train passengers. Still others walked into stores and businesses and walked out with stolen goods. “

This behavior prompted Philadelphia Mayor Nutter to put a 9pm curfew on the city youth for Friday and Saturday nights and have personally held the parents responsible for any child found out after curfew with fines upwards of 500 dollars. In the words of Mayor Nutter; “We've got the biggest, baddest gang in town - a committed group of citizens and a committed government and we're working together and we're not going to have this nonsense anymore."

Yeah, that’s how he rolls.

I was going to give a good tongue lashing and finger pointing on how the young people in these states have taken something enjoyable, positive, and surprising like flash mobs into something mean, disruptive, and violent.

However, trying not to sound like a grandmother, I am here to tell you that I am not going to be wasting any more of my energy glorifying these morons.

So I began to wonder. Where did flash mobs originate and why don’t we ever see the evening news broadcast all the fun and creative flash mobs? Personally, I would like reporters on the scene of a dancing flash mob (perhaps even partaking in the fun) than on a murder scene.

But hey, that’s just me.

So being of the ‘older generation’,( meaning that I’m over 30, but clearly under 50), I didn’t put much thought into where it all generated from. It seemed as if it just appeared everywhere one day.

So I did some research and came across some interesting facts.

Bill Wasik, the Senior Editor of Harper’s Magazine started the Flash mob movement back in 2003 where individuals came together at a Toys R Us store in New York City to gather around a giant T-Rex dinosaur and stared at it for three minutes, then genuflected and cowered beneath the giant toy. Employees of the store called security due to the fact that they became concerned of a cult like activity occurring in their store. They dispersed before security could arrive.

Crazy fun.

Then there is Charlie Todd; an actor that some feel should receive credit for starting the ‘Flash mob’ movement. Charlie started the ‘Improv Everywhere’ missions back in 2001, where people get together for pranks in the New York City area that cause scenes of joy and chaos in public places within a short period of time. The website ( posts videos and summaries of all the pranks Mr. Todd organizes. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the silliness, creativity, and human reaction that goes into each of these ‘pranks’.

A men’s room attendant at a McDonalds in Times Square? Priceless.

A suicide jumper that is on a ledge that is 3 feet high? Twisted, yet comedic.
Then there are mobs that get together for the message of saving a life. In Cheektowaga, NY, people gathered at the Walden Galleria mall to perform CPR on mannequins to the tune of The Bee Gees song, Staying Alive. This act was in efforts to get a bill passed to mandate CPR training in the high school curriculum.

Others do it to demonstrate the power of park and recreation programs. In Upper St. Clair, PA, assistant director Ryan McCLeaster stated, "We, here in USC, wanted to show how recreation plays an active role in many lives from youth to older adults through our programs and amenities, including the Community and Recreation Center."
Regardless of the oddities, reasons, or messages, what we discover with each act is a lesson in humanity. Everyone has a story. It’s like one big sociology experiment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about sex.” For those of you born in the late 1980’s you may be old enough to know what female vocal group sang this song.

For those of you who weren’t, it was Salt N Pepa.

The song discussed simply, sex and the disadvantages of being promiscuous. Believe it or not, this song was pretty controversial back in the day. However, presently sex is everywhere and is taken pretty lightly when it comes to expressing it.

Especially on college campuses.

I know we are a commuter school, however, NECC students at some point will go on to schools that are not. So, I guess I would have to ask, "Where do we draw the line when it comes to moral behavior on campuses?" When the Observer staff took out the first edition of the NECC Observer dated November 21, 1962, one story caught my eye. It was titled “Students’ Moral Behavior on Campus Discussed”, by Ellin Foreman. In it she discusses the recent flurry of articles that were in newspapers and magazines on the subject of sex and the college student. (Not to be confused with Sex in the City.)

In the article, Ms. Foreman focuses on a private assembly that was held by Vassar College President, Sarah Gibson Blanding on April 4, 1962 on student moral behavior on campus. She addressed the student body by stating “students are expected to maintain the highest standards of behavior and those who drink to excess or engage in premarital sexual relations are not living up to the highest standards of behavior." I found that statement pretty strict and was curious to read the rest of her speech.

I went to the Vassar College website archives and found an excerpt of her speech. It said; “premarital sex and excessive drinking would not be tolerated at Vassar.” She declared that sexual promiscuity was “indecent and immoral” and that “disciplinary action would be taken against those who did not follow the standards of the college.” President Blanding went on to state that, “those students who could not follow the rules to withdraw voluntarily from Vassar.”

Wow. You have got to be kidding me. She is stating this to students who were considered adults in society. Could we imagine if President Glenn said to us, if you can’t keep it in your pants, go elsewhere? (Of course, I'm using extreme and loosely stated terms; President Glenn would definitely be more eloquent if needed to address this issue to us on campus.) I wonder what students would do. Would they stay? Would they agree? When taking a poll from students who heard President Blanding’s speech, 52% agreed with her, 40% disagreed, and the rest were undecided.

I wonder what the students at NECC would think.

As I’m reading through the article Ms. Foreman wrote, the entire thing sounds so stuffy, rigid and so very 1962-ish. Students were expected to behave with the highest of moral standards. There was so much expectation put on 18 year olds and older. Acting like an adult was important back then. It was something that was earned not just handed over. Having credibility and integrity was highly regarded in society back in 1962.

This leads me to this question. Do we still have this integrity today amongst our young adults? The stuffy ‘old person’ in me wants to say we don’t. She wants to say that young adults today take everything for granted and there is this sense of entitlement that is just flooring to me. Then there is the hip and happening person who thinks that this is a totally different time, era, and lifestyle than in the 60’s and with this type of change so do the kids. And the optimistic in me hopes that with age, these young adults will become to understand society’s ways and wise up to what they need to do in life and make it all better.

But am I right?

I posed the question out to some fellow students and adults and their response was interesting. Rosanne Cudia Romano stated, “Students slack off because this generation thinks the world owes them something. Adding sex and partying into the mix brings down the moral even more because they are focusing even less on work as they are thinking about the next party coming up or who they are going to hook up with next."


Charles Russo stated, “a Brigham Young University basketball player, Brandon Davies got kicked off the team and out of school last year for having pre-marital sex (I think his girlfriend got pregnant).The student athletes at BYU had to sign a "contract" saying no drinking, sex, etc. BYU is a Mormon University. Additionally, I think the country has become morally bankrupt. Anything goes nowadays. Parents can't let their kids watch TV past the 6pm news anymore. All shows have sexual connotations or half naked actors and actresses. Sex is very casual now. Not a lot of meaning in it for kids of this generation. The kids nowadays think oral sex is like a handshake. I believe the whole loss of morality etc. impacts work ethic, respect for one another, elders, and how they view the value of a dollar and their possessions.”

Doesn’t look promising, does it?

I posed this question out to traditional college students but didn’t get a response. I wonder if it was because they just didn’t notice the e-mail request or they just flat out didn’t care to contribute their comments to a discussion on moral issues. The hip and happening person was really hoping for the other side to form an opinion, giving me a good ‘get with the program granny’ type response, and state to me that casual sex is where it’s at these days and to not be so stuffy; ‘kids of today are doing just fine’.

However, what worries me is that is exactly what I didn’t get.