Group behavior

8 June 2006 at 19:51 Leave a comment

Maybe I shouldn’t have started yesterday out at the Dolphin Show “Play!” at the Aquarium. There’s something about it that makes me squirm: the audience.

There are plenty of people (and dolphins) who seem to simply enjoy the romping, but a vast majority seem to be there to be told what to do and enjoy tuning out on group behavior.

The show was clearly designed to manipulate your emotions and it creeped me out how many people reacted enthusiastically to the cues. It reminded me of the scene with Jan Hooks in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure where she’s the guide of a tour of the Alamo. They all ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ on cue at ridiculous things. Add to that not reacting to other things that were going on (but which did not have an emotional cue – were not scripted) and you get an idea of what freaked me out.

Later in the evening we went to an Orioles game, where group behavior was less disturbing, though interesting. What surprised me the most were the chorus of cheers/boos rating the catches made by people snagging foul balls. It was pretty funny and seemed in good humor.

It was individual behavior that, as usual, was the most amusing: Mr. Come-on-Kris.

He seemed to be a native Baltimorean, who I have noticed speak quite loudly at most times. He was holding forth on the management, the pitching, the management, the coaching, the management before the game even got started. He even freaked when the scoreboard said “7:05” and the game hadn’t started.

Once the game actually started he started yelling advice to the pitcher:

“Come on Kris, let’s get this guy.” (said twice during the 1st 7 innings)

“Come on Kris, get in the groove.” (said twice during the 1st 7 innings)

“Come on Kris.” (said at least 6 times during the 1st 7 innings)

He spoke to batters too: “Good eye, [insert first name of batter here]” and

“Wait for your pitch, [insert first name of batter here].”

By the bottom of the seventh, his tone had changed:

“Come on O’s, do something right.”

But my favorite was at the bottom of the 8th:

“He’s batting 107. Maybe you can get him.”

Yeah, they didn’t.

Of interest, at a point of high tension as Toronto changed pitchers with the bases loaded after the pitcher had walked one in they played YMCA. It seemed designed to keep the crowd calm. I think the crowd was fine, but then I don’t go to many baseball games. I’m sure I wouldn’t have even noticed if it hadn’t been for the Dolphin Show Emotional Extravaganza.


Entry filed under: misanthropy, overheards.

Overheard XIII Overheard XIV

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What I’ve been reading:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. (London, 14 King William Street, Strand: William P. Nimmo, 1876). 4 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 3, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985). 4 years ago
  • Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 4 years ago
  • Stephanie Kallos, Broken for You (New York: Grove Press, 2004). 5 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 2, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985) 5 years ago

T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



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