The real reason for the London riots
Picture this scene:
You’re at a cross-roads. Not a metaphorical one, but a real one, and you’re late for work. The problem is, the button on the lamp-post – put there to give pedestrians power to stop traffic at will – isn’t working. You’ll be standing here a long time and there’s not much that can stop the traffic.
Except one thing: a volume of people. And this is just what happens. First as a group of ignorant foreign students cross without looking, and then as others follow. Before long the street is the pedestrians. And you follow.
Really, to my mind, the riots were no different than this: it was follow-the-leader on a grand-scale, and social networking sites like Twitter made it all the easier, made it into one big game. What you really need to do is to take out the human element. Forget the fact that the riots caused damage, and forget the fact that peoples livelihoods were hurt. At the time, as the crowds surged, it was all about the energy.
This might sound like an excuse, but believe me, I am not excusing it. Not in any way. I’m young enough that I can still remember my youth, but what these people did was inexcusable. What I am saying is that there are explanations. And if you pay attention to what the youth are saying, the ring loud and clear.
And that’s just the problem. None of us want to hear this stuff. It goes against everything adults believe to trust that the kids have the answers, after all.
I’m also really angry with the youth, many of them I know personally. I pulled one person to the side during the riots to ask him what he thought he was doing. We were standing outside a human resource software shop; I know this because I once went there for a job interview, which led to me not getting the job. Maybe I was biased towards the nice bloke who had interviewed me — because he really was cool with me, and I liked that, despite the fact someone else got the job — but even so, I wanted an explanation.
“Fun, innit,” he said.
“The power, that’s what this is.”
And there it was: the power. Is it really surprising that power is what the youth want? Watch a Hollywood film and then think about the message it puts across.
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