The Contagious Nature of Crowds

By Evan Ortiz

I think it is safe to say that we have all been in a crowd at one point or another in our lives. One of the most interesting aspects of crowds is how contagious they can be. When gathered in large numbers, a cheer or a series of boos can spread through people like wildfire. I can think of a few instances where I have been the victim (or the instigator) of this strange phenomena in crowds.

A few years back, my dad and I were at a Dave Matthews Band concert and the opening band was playing. I hadn’t recognized them at all, and their music was okay. During one of their songs, one of the band members clapped to the beat of their own song, hoping to entice the crowd to clap along. My dad and I heard clapping, so we started clapping too. We thought the clapping was getting louder, so we kept on clapping.

Then we realized there was no one else clapping, we were hearing the echo in the stadium (as it had not filled entirely yet). My dad and I laughed as we stopped clapping. Even when we were exposed to fake crowd noise, we felt compelled to join in. If everyone else was having a good time, why shouldn’t we. When the lie was revealed, we stopped clapping. But we still felt compelled to hop on that train when we heard that noise.

Perhaps this is why concerts have this certain feeling of connectivity. Crowds can make us feel different, make us act more outwardly then we would anywhere else. You turn to the person next to you, someone you have never met before, and you feel like you’ve known them for years. It’s the crowd, it’s the atmosphere, it’s something that almost cannot be explained. If you’ve never been to a concert, or if you’ve never been in a crowd of people who are enjoying something, you need to find a crowd to cheer with.

Leave a Reply