A couple years ago, I began researching the issue of text-induced stampedes. Since it was, and still is, mostly grounded in the hypothetical, I knew I’d need to devise some names for a few terms that do not exist. So I did.
First, I concocted the term “artificially generated stampede” which I defined as…
A sudden rush of people likely the result of panic-inducing information delivered via cell phones or mobile devices
Originally, I thought SMS (short message service), specifically text messaging, was the primary concern. But the more I explored the potential for text-induced panics, the more I began to realize how the mode in which information is delivered could easily metastasize. It could be something as simple and direct as a phone call. And it could even come from a trusted, credible source. Social media, specifically mediums like facebook and twitter, became a fundamental issue. With the increasingly efficient level of technology in play, the manner in which non-verified information can exponentially spin out of control became an overriding issue.
This led me to the term “viral blitzkrieg” which I defined as…
A bombardment of information designed to saturate a geographic region and exponentially spread panic
I think this term is self-explanatory. A physical blitzkrieg invokes images of the German bombardment and invasion of Poland in World War II. Blitzkrieg operations capitalize on the element of surprise, general enemy unpreparedness and “lightning quickness.” However, this one is information based. The notion of executing a viral blitzkrieg is particularly troublesome. Not only because it requires only a minimal degree of technological proficiency, but it would certainly result in others unknowingly exacerbating an attack. The notion of tricking people into participating in an attack on innocent civilian allies is a very disturbing precedent.
And finally, this led me to the term “dominipede.”
Multiple, simultaneous human stampedes likely the result of a viral blitzkrieg
I knew I’d need a term for simultaneous, related human stampedes. After all, if a black swan, 9/11-like event were to transpire, history would require it be assigned a unique name. Once again, a wartime analogy seemed most appropriate. I think it’s a safe assumption that most people reading this article are familiar with the fundamentals of the “domino theory.” The domino theory was offered to conceptually justify U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The notion that if one nation falls to communism, others in the region would eventually succumb. Countries would fall like dominoes. Simply combining the words “domino” and “stampede” seemed to make the most sense.
I also thought the religious reference and loose translation of the Latin phrase “Anno Domino” was appropriate. In the aftermath of a horrific tragedy, people often turn to religion and prayer for some degree of comfort. Much like people define our historical chronology in terms of a pre and post 9/11 world, I could easily envision people making those same references to a dominipede.
I suppose the word “dominipede” requires a little getting used to. But it does bear a resemblance to other odd sounding, disaster-oriented terms (tsunami, tornado, haboob, avalanche, hurricane, etc.).