Bill Wasik does an excellent job of explaining how social media and the instantaneousness of contemporary technology make riots stronger, more unpredictable, and more dynamic. Social media possesses the ability to bring groups together who would have never found each other otherwise, while instant communication bases like BBM and Twitter serve to physically converge the members of these groups in events like riots and protests. Combined, these two forces strengthen one’s belongingness in the group and create the “Elaborated Social Identity Model” which creates a dynamic group, rather than individual, identity and frees members to act on their “baser impulses,” thus intensifying the riot.
When discussing the potential for apps to play a role in planning and executing riots more effectively, Wasik states that “When disorder strikes or danger looms, [rioters] will fall back on the social ties they have already established, the tools they already posses, the patterns they already follow.” With this very observation, Wasik speaks against his own argument that when people come together to riot, they will act strongly in favor of the group’s agenda or “identity”. The very nature of these violent riots presents participants, first-timers and regulars, with a dangerous, uncertain situation. According to Wasik’s statement, these rioters are likely to fall back on their pre-established social ties and patterns, they will revert to their more practiced, and likely more socially acceptable, behaviors and lose the spark to act that is mob mentality. Although Wasik thoroughly discusses the role of psychological group dynamic in riots, he fails to bring both possible outcomes together to analyze which group situations might produce stronger riots and which may weaken the event’s agenda, which is an important factor when considering the psychological processes involved in riots and protests.