Flash Looting

Posted on Wed 10 August 2011 by alex in general

As the sun rises on a new day and businesses across the country count the cost of the nights violence we awake to a new phenomena. The technology and social networking that brought us the Flash Mob have now brought us the Flash Loot.

When you start hearing some of those involved talk about their perceived entitlement to the mobile phones and flat screen TVs it makes you wonder if 18 months of government austerity is really the trigger for these "riots". Wikipedia defines a riot as a "form of civil disorder characterized often by disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people". That doesn't quite gel with the image of looters renting vans so they can be more efficient in loading up their swag. They seem to have learnt from the anti-kettling tactics of legitimate protesters - co-ordinate when and where to meet, sweep in en-masses and leave before the Police can respond in force. Only instead of making a political point or staging a demo at some perceived enemy of the people it's an excuse to loot shops of whatever they hold.

I find it tricky to keep my inner right-wing instincts under check. It's disturbing when you find yourself starting to agree with the likes of the Mail and bemoaning the sorry state of the UK today. While social divisions and inequality I'm sure have played their parts in forming a generation of youths with the attitudes that can justify these actions to themselves I find myself wondering if it's a problem that can be solved with a few pounds on benefits here and there. These people aren't rioting because they are hungry. They obviously feel so disconnected from society as a whole they don't see or care about the damage they are doing the communities that they love in.

You have to keep a sense of perspective about these things. It is a minority of people involved. Most of our fellow citizens would be more inclined to make a cup of tea for the overworked police officers or coordinate the clean-up with the real community. Social media is a tool which can be used for good as well as the more headline grabbing bad. This country isn't really going to hell in a hand-basket despite the actions of a small number of disaffected youth. I hope the country remembers that over the next few days and weeks.