Social Media has played a vital role in the transfer of information for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. However, from what I can see, I do not believe that without the technology, the message would not have spread as much or as far as it has. I believe social media just provides a new outlet for communication that would have occurred, regardless of the technology’s existence.
This is supported in Gladwell’s New Yorker article. He speaks of an incredible Civil Rights sit-in that spread across state lines in the 1960s and highlights how this was able to happen without any of today’s technology to help get the word out. Yes, social media sites make “it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coördinate, and give voice to their concern,” but if they were not around, the cause would still be very much alive (Gladwell).
Now, I would not agree with everything Gladwell stated about the impact of social media on movements. In Brandzel’s article in The Nation, he points out many areas of interest, such as strong ties verses weak ties, where Gladwell seems to miss the change social media has on interpersonal relationships; Gladwell underestimates the strength of the ties people create and nurture with the help of social media sites. Nevertheless, it almost furthers the idea that social media does not add much more to movements besides acting as another tool for communication.
Even with this technology, sometimes the message still gets mixed up. Occupy Wall Street’s call to action, posted on their Tumblr and Blogger, is very well-written, but what is the movement really protesting? The four-page-long letter to the world continues to state that there is injustice in America, but it never directly highlights actual, specific instances of injustice or reasons people should take part in the movement. Without a strong message, no one will know what to support, and in effect, nothing will change. Today, that is exactly what has happened. Everyone heard about the movement, but no one knows for what they are fighting, not even the movement’s spokespeople.
Personally, I first heard about the Occupy Wall Street Movement by word of mouth and continued to retrieve information about it through the news and through conversations with knowledgeable people. After exploring through different social media sites, I can still say that I have gained a clearer and more in-depth message about the movement through those pre-social-media techniques than I have on any social media site, including the movement’s official sites. I am an artifact showing that social media is indeed just a tool of the cause, and not an innovation.