Power Through Numbers?

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a protest of a new breed. Fueled by mass marketing and messaging over social media sites, the original organizers were able to gain the world’s attention extremely quickly and spread their message rapidly. Although this may sound like the organizer’s dream- to reach millions of responders in minutes- this dream can easily turn into a nightmare.

Bill Wasik discussed in an article concerning flash mobs, groups that gather for a shared bond, have the potential to become uncontrollable and even violent. When the individuals become connected to the group, their feelings can become magnified and empowered. Power may come with numbers, but destabilization and disorganization follow. Waskik retells and an incident where the artist Kaskade tweeted for his followers to come to an impromptu block party. Only expecting about 1,000 fans to show-up, 5 times that amount came. When police became involved to help manage the size, a riot ensued. Within an hour, a seemingly innocent block party had turned into a dangerous disturbance.

OWS shared a fatal flaw to the Kaskade event; both eventually lost control to the masses that had responded. OWS’s message was an important one that needed to be brought to attention, and acted on, but as it grew stronger, the overwhelming response weakened the movement.




3 responses to “Power Through Numbers?

  1. coffeeshoprhino

    Any specific examples of OWS control issues?

  2. There were many riots at different OWS sites across the country, many of which erupted with police presence, just as the Kaskade event. The Oakland riot is probably the best well known one. For further information, here is an article on the Oakland http://www.theblaze.com/stories/full-blown-riots-erupt-as-occupy-oakland-gets-out-of-control-overnight/. There were also several riots in DC. Here is a video of one that was started simply out of group angst http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpDsogOy2IU. There was also a riot when the police attempted to clear the McPherson Square protest, and both police and civilians were injured. Here is an article on that riot as well http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/dc/us-park-police-officer-injured-by-thrown-bottle-at-occupy-dc-demonstration-still-ailing-020912. Also if anyone would like to read further on just general riots that took place within OWS and some of the reasoning behind them here is good article http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/occupy-wall-street-mass-economic-riots-are-now-here-and-america-will-never-be-the-same.

  3. The collapse of the movement is the result of, in part, a collapse in the structure of logistics. Without having the detailed coordination of people, supplies, and even ideas, no organization, or in this case movement, will ever be efficient and effective in the long run.

    Take a look at this article if you may, http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/09/call-your-mom-logistics-occupying-wall-street/43014/. In it, an organizer of OWS named Mary explains some of the flaws in the OWS logistical approach. First, she emphasized the lack of centralization within the movement, by citing a situation, where somebody on the media committee would have no idea who Mary was, who focuses more on the legal side of issues. Because of the large scale of operation within OWS, it’s harder to for everybody to be on the same page.

    Another instance cited in the article is the OWS response to the NY Times attacking them saying that they have a “lack of cohesion” and basically fail to implement a solid and direct message from the beginning. OWS’s response was an idea of their own newspaper. There were two distinct sides advocating various directions for the newspaper, though. One side wanted all-encompassing demands while the other side wanted to engage the system more indirectly.

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