Joan Smith

Mob Mentality

The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity

By

Bloomsbury Continuum 288pp £20 order from our bookshop

Few people would disagree with the proposition that the world has become a nastier place in recent years, or that it’s happened very fast, hastened by the growth of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s never been so easy to target total strangers, to shame them for a momentary lapse in judgement or to subject them to a barrage of poisonous abuse. A thoughtlessly worded tweet (this phrase would have meant nothing two decades ago) can destroy a career, while public figures struggle to differentiate between online bravado and seriously intended death threats.

Douglas Murray’s new book, The Madness of Crowds, describes this behaviour as ‘increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant’. I don’t disagree with any of that and it’s essential that public figures take a stand against it. Sadly, we live in an era when some of them don’t, choosing to keep quiet out of fear of being targeted by an online mob, or actively encouraging intemperate abuse of opponents as a political strategy. In the USA, the spectacle of a president who behaves like a teenage Twitter troll has gone from being a shocking aberration to a daily occurrence.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate… ,
    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,