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Rash of violence isn’t flash mobs, it’s wilding

Updated: September 15, 2011 12:28AM

Just a couple of months ago, the term “flash mob” was commonly associated with groups of young people who would congregate to perform ironic dance routines from the 1980s.

Now it has a chilling effect.

The teenage thugs who swarm into retail stores and steal, who knock down bicyclists, who grab your phone and run away, who beat up people in broad daylight, are being referred to as “flash mobs.”

Nonsense. They’re criminals engaged in acts of violence.

In the late 1980s, when a pack of thugs raped and nearly killed a woman in Central Park, the term “wilding” was all over the media. It was used to describe the sociopathic group actions of a mob going wild at the expense of an innocent human being(s).

I am not equating a cell phone theft or even throwing a baseball at a guy and beating him with fists with the horrific attack that occurred in Central Park. But what we’re seeing right now in Chicago and other cities — that’s not flash mobbing.

It’s wilding. And that’s what we in the media should be calling it.

Twitter me this

Not long ago I considered writing a book about the seemingly non-stop birther madness swirling around President Barack Obama.

Working title: Born in the USA.

But I’d never stop hearing from the holdouts STILL asking questions about Obama’s birth. Who needs it.

Now I’m thinking of writing a book titled Twitter Ruined My Life!

I’ll never run out of material. The latest self-inflicted victim is of course Anthony Weiner, who A) should have changed his name to something like “Winner” long ago, and B) was apparently so filled with remorse and self-loathing on Monday he subjected himself to maybe the longest press conference Q-and-A in scandal history.

What a presser! It started with Andrew Breitbart hijacking the podium and demanding an apology and continued through Weiner’s sincere but utterly goofy confessional, featured a woman who kept saying, “Did you have phone sex? Did you have phone sex? DID YOU HAVE PHONE SEX!” and ended with Howard Stern jester Benjy Bronk shouting to Weiner, “Are you shocked that Arnold had sex with such an ugly woman?!” which is mean and rotten and makes no sense, but is still only slightly more ridiculous than “DID YOU HAVE PHONE SEX!”

How Tweet it isn’t

But back to Twitter Ruined My Life!

Dozens, maybe hundreds, nay THOUSANDS, of folks have signed up for Twitter, learned the ways of Tweeting, started sharing news of their day — and then somehow stepped into a big steaming pile of trouble because of a misguided Tweet or a Direct Message gone rogue or an ill-advised crack.

In the public arena, the list of Twitter kerfuffles keeps growing. Two months ago, a 36-year-old Minnesota man became the new voice of the Aflac duck, because the old voice of the Aflac duck, Gilbert Gottfried, had been fired for Tweeting a bunch of tasteless jokes about the tsunami in Japan.

Never mind Gottfried has made a career of out of being unbelievably and often hilariously offensive onstage. That Gottfried Tweeted the jokes somehow turned them into “comments,” and that was unacceptable to the company that for years hadn’t cared that Gottfried had delivered the most insensitive material imaginable.

A number of sports figures have gotten into Tweet trouble. Ozzie Guillen was fined and suspended for two games because he Tweeted about an umpire after being ejected from a game, and Major League Baseball prohibits players and managers from using social media during games. (Imagine explaining THAT rule to Casey Stengel.) Tyson Chandler, Chad Ochocinco and Amar’e Stoudamire, among other sports figures, have been fined for comments made on Twitter.

Add to that the various entertainers who have engaged in feuds or expressed offensive opinions and the politicians and talk-show hosts who have had to apologize for linking to dubious sites, and you’ve got a whole bundle of public figures scratching their heads and thinking, “Tell me again why I signed up for this thing?”

Far too often, Twitter brings out the Twit in us.

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