At a rally, ordinary people may do unordinary bad things. While that may sound grim, it is quite true.
Take for example, this man with the beard. He was preaching and on a roll. Word after word about how this is bad verses this is good.
Regardless of what “This” maybe about, ordinary people around him started to criticize his words. The criticism grew louder and louder as some criticism turned into challenges of fighting.
One young man stepped before him and invited him to throw the first punch with a slew of words that most would not want our children to hear. As the challenge grew, others in the crowd encouraged the punching as if that was all of a sudden okay to do in society.
Another man stood directly in front of him as well - expecting a fight to take place. However, no fight occurred as the older man had no intention to strike, only to speak and be heard.
If you simply slowed your anger and listened to the words of the older man, you recognized that he spoke out of a troubled past and just wanted to be heard. He talked about living on the streets while being homeless in Nashville. He talked about murderers and how some in the crowd know of dark secrets, but have yet to admit to them. It was obvious to some that he spoke out of sadness in his past and instead of accepting his words, others felt attacked by them although they were not directed at any one person.
Actions of one following the crowd happen quickly and turn into group violence’s and rioting. That of course explains the psychology behind the show of a strong police presence at such an event. Regardless of the cost to produce such force, it is sometimes necessary to deescalate a situation before it has the water to grow.
During rallies like the one held in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville on October 28, 2017, you could easily witness ordinary everyday people break out of their norm and say things they normally would not say. They may not realize it or admit it, but those in attendance had the potential to do great harm while following the masses in large groups.
Following the masses in social psychology is called Deindividuation. It is the loss of identity or self-awareness, usually in a group setting. People lose self-awareness and feel less responsibility of ones’ actions. An example would be a riot where all present mindlessly follow along. This can easily trap good people and convince them to follow along in beatings, vandalism, stealing and even murdering.
A similar word used in psychology is emotional contagion. Emotional contagion is the tendency to feel and express emotions similar to and influenced by those of others; also, the phenomenon of one person’s negative thoughts or anxiety affecting another’s mood.
Actions, challenges, sarcastic replies or strong words by someone who may normally be viewed as wise will make them look like a fool in protest settings. Especially when challenging someone to a duel whereas that same person would never do such in a typical setting.
"It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own." - Cicero, Roman politician, lawyer, orator, and writer. (106 BC - 43 BC)