Forget about Flash Crashes, Flash Mobs Are Way Cooler


Today is the five year anniversary of when U.S. stock markets experienced unprecedented price volatility, known as a flash crash. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 600 points in less than five minutes, but 20 minutes later had recovered most of that 600 point loss.

Navinder Singh Sarao, a trader from the U.K,  is accused of masterminding a stock market spoofs scam which triggered the 2010 flash crash, and currently faces extradition to the U.S. over allegations of wire fraud, commodities fraud, and market manipulation.

Fortunately safeguards have been put in place to hopefully protect from similar flash crashes in the future, so something positive has come out of the experience.

But enough about flash crashes, let me talk about something much more enjoyable, flash mobs. Flash mobs have been around for a little over 10 years, the first one occurring at a Macy’s in New York City in 2003.

According to Wikipedia, a flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, before quickly dispersing. There has been some debate about whether the term flash mob should be applied to events and performances organized for the purposes of politics (such as protests), commercial advertisement, publicity stunts that involve public relation firms, or paid professionals. In these cases of a planned purpose for the social activity in question, the term smart mobs is often applied instead.

I don’t really care what name is applied to such gatherings. To me, flash mobs are just fun to watch. It does seem like they are not as popular as they once were (I haven’t seen a video of a good flash mob in a while), so I thought I would share a couple of my favorite flash mob videos.

The first video is of 200 people taking over Antwerpen’s Centraal Station in Belgium dancing to the song Do Re Mi from the Sound of Music. The video turned out to be a publicity stunt for a reality show, but it does not diminish the pure joy that one experiences when watching the video.

The second flash mob video took place much closer to home, in fact it was filmed where I work, Villanova University. The song in this video is Katy Perry’s Firework, and features not only several Villanova students, but also the President of the University, Father Peter Donohue, and Jay Wright, the coach of the men’s basketball team. You may recognize Coach Wright, and it won’t be hard to pick out Father Peter either:)

The video was filmed in conjunction with the University’s new campaign to tell the Villanova story, using the slogan “Ignite Change, Go Nova”

If you look hard enough in the background, you may see me in my office, hunched over a laptop, grading cash flow statements prepared by my students. I can’t imagine why I wasn’t invited to take part in the flash mob…

And one final video, also from Villanova, is of the Harlem Shake. This craze seemed to replace flash mobs, and while they may not be as well planned out as the flash mob videos above, some of them are still fun to watch.

The Harlem Shake craze seems to have died out as well, so I’m looking forward to whatever the next flash mob thing will be. Perhaps it will be large groups of people doing the Cups song




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