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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Mayfair Could've Been Anywhere

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      We're almost a week removed from "Mayhem at Mayfair" or whatever headline you want to ascribe to what happened at the Wauwatosa shopping center.

      Mall officials say it was a creation of social networking.   Tosa police made some arrests but are a little reluctant when it comes to talking about the how's and why's of what went down.

       Some folks are eager to predict a Northridge-esque fate on Mayfair and there are shoppers who swear they'll never darken the shopping center's kiosks again

       I wonder where they're going to shop.

      What happened at Mayfair could've happened anywhere.   If a group of young people (or adults, for that matter) decides to "flash mob" or "flash tag" a venue, the odds are on their side.   It's something I'm guessing every shopping center and public facility in the nation, not just Milwaukee, is having to worry about in this era of Facebook and Twitter.

       It may seem harmless to those who are pulling it off--a mob fills a building, pulls off a stunt, and the tape of the event lives on forever on YouTube.   No blood, no foul, right?   Marquette students have been doing it for the last couple of semesters at the Raynor Library, gathering en masse at some point during finals week.    Hundreds of kids suddenly show up, sing, and disperse.    The video usually ends up making the local news.   We laugh at those zany kids, pulling off a tension-relieving stunt in which nothing gets wrecked.


       What happens, though, when participants get out of hand, like what happened Sunday?   Or, what happens when the chosen venue isn't ready--either security-wise or architecturally--for a huge crowd?     What if organizers tell participants to show up on, say, a foot bridge at a set time and hundreds gather on a span built to handle a handful of people at a time but not a "mob"?   

       This isn't just a worry at Mayfair.   You can bet every shopping center and public facility in Milwaukee saw what happened Sunday and breathed a sigh of relief that it didn't happen to them.  The smart ones probably projected those scenes onto their venues and started thinking, what if?  Are we ready for the next time?

        Instead, though, it was Mayfair, and it's Mayfair that has to live with the aftermath.

        I would hope that what happened doesn't change your mind about the mall's safety.    I have no vested interest in Mayfair, only a sense of fair play.   For whatever reason, Internet pranksters drew a bulls eye on Tosa last weekend.    They could've done it at Southridge, Bayshore, Brookfield Square, or anywhere else.

       It may not make you feel any safer thinking about that as you head out to shop.    It hopefully gives you a little perspective.    And, it should provide a little context in terms of what shopping centers and other public places are facing in these, the days of Facebook and "flash mobs", of Twitter and "flash tag".

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