CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The recent mob violence by young people in London, along with the sudden surge in "flash mob" attacks in the U.S., has left me feeling unsettled. It's not so much that I fear it happening here, but that something so senseless is happening at all.
Call me naive for being so stunned by these actions, but it feels like our world has been suddenly overrun with sugared-up, sleep-deprived toddlers who see something they want so they snatch it and go. No rules. No manners. No thought of what their actions will bring them or others long term.
It wasn't so long ago that the term "flash mob" was used to describe a group that coordinated via social networking sites to arrive at a predetermined destination for some act of silliness -- group pillow fights, choreographed dances, dressing alike, freezing in place.
But the term was stolen by thugs who are using the same means -- linking up via mass emails, tweets or social networking sites -- because they're hellbent on taking whatever they've a notion to take and on committing violence upon whoever tries to stop them or merely crosses their path.
While reading online news articles about some of the most recent violence, I was taken aback by some who posted comments afterward that sounded as though they're proud of the "cleverness" of the culprits, saying they'd outsmarted the store owners and used technology to stay one step ahead of authorities.
What they failed to recognize was that their heroes took what didn't belong to them while perpetrating violence against innocents. That's nothing to admire. Unless there's something wrong with a person, it should trigger a sense of disgust.
Just two weeks ago, I attended a Neighborhood Watch meeting for Ward 7 in St. Albans with my friends Desper and MaryLou Lemon. Desper is a councilman for that ward, and he and his neighbors have worked hard to establish an active watch group for their area. It's been extremely successful thus far, with neighbors getting to know each other and establishing relationships with the St. Albans police.
The point their group emphasized was the importance in looking out for each other. It's the sense of community that's missing in these snatch-and-grab mobsters. It's odd that they can recognize the value in connecting with others enough to build strength in numbers -- when so many converge on a business, it's nearly impossible to stop -- yet they fail to see that this connection with those around us requires us to be responsible. We're all in this together.