FLASH mobs, of late, have been getting some bad press.

In the past year, there have been reports of at least five violent ”flash mobs” in Philadelphia, United States, causing injuries to people and damage to properties.

Although there have been reports that the most recent incident, which happened over a week ago, was actually started by a breakdancing crew, social media is still getting the blame.

How is this possible, you might ask?

Well, flashmobs are basically gatherings of people in public places, mobilised via the Internet.

For those not in the know, here is how flashmobs traditionally work. An organiser would spread information about a particular gathering via the Internet. People would then gather at the meeting place, perform the random act of fun, and then quickly disperse.

In this day and age of social media, blogs, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular tools to disseminate information about an upcoming flash mob.

The thing is, flashmobs are meant to be ”unusual” and ”pointless”, according to Wikipedia. The same article also states that ”the term is generally not applied to events organised by public relations firms, protests, and publicity stunts.”

So, those violent acts — with the intention to cause damage — is technically not a flashmob. But semantics aside, incidents like this really do tarnish the fun nature of flashmobs, and threatens the movement.

In Malaysia, we haven’t yet heard of flashmobs which have taken a ugly turn. In fact,, arguably the most renowned organisers of flashmobs in the country, has even organised ”flashmob-inspired” gatherings to forward causes.

Take for example the recent Tali Tenang, which was organised by Facebook group United Colours of Malaysia. It was organised right after the church arson incident in Kuala Lumpur early this year, with the intention to show Malaysians (and perhaps the world) that in times of conflict and uncertainties, that it is all the more important for people of different cultures and background to come together in peace and solidarity.’s most known flashmob has got to be the KL Freeze in Unison, which saw 1,000 people gathering in a shopping centre in KL, and stood still for four minutes. This flashmob arguably started the movement in Malaysia.

The ”ugliest” — or most ”violent” — flashmob held in KL had to be last year’s pillow fight, held in conjunction with World Pillow Fight Day. It was also organised by At the time, about 200 people — both old and young — came together with pillows of different sizes and colours and had the time of their lives smacking each other.

The World Pillow Fight Day is noted as one of the biggest flashmob events in the world. The first time it was organised was in 2008, and over 25 cities around the world participated in the first ”international flashmob”. Of course, this was made possible thanks to the wonders of social media including MySpace, Facebook and public forums.

The flashmobs in Malaysia — and many others around the world — have brought millions of people together, and helped many people to just have fun, release some stress and build friendships.

It would be a shame to let some bad apples destroy the movement for everyone else. Besides, World Pillow Fight Day is coming up again. If you want to hit somebody, why not show up for that one instead? will once again organise a Pillow Fight this year on April 3. Log on to for details on the secret gathering location where everyone will meet. Remember to bring along your weapon (pillow) of choice.

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