For almost 3 ½ minutes between classes on a sunny Tuesday morning, students in Dr. Clark’s ‘People and Cultures of the World” (ANT 111) class stormed the patio of Benson to perform dance moves from the viral pop hit, “Watch Me” by Silento.
Students were both participants and observers as they Whipped, Nae-Naed, Stanky Legged, Bopped, Duffed, and so on. The result? Students honed their ethnographic tool kits in a social experiment of millennial culture. Two-page essay reflections ranged from the meanings of a cultural artifact such as the Flash Mob experienced on a small, southern college campus in the 21st century; to the immediate responses from onlookers stopping to record the event on their smart phones and instantly posting onto social media; to those who walked through the mob en route to their next class seemingly unfazed by the gathering. While most students had reservations when first hearing of the assignment on the second day of class, all acknowledged the flash mob as a useful device to better understand cultural and social contexts in which millennials live.