Social media quickly mobilizes an army

Time Magazine 2011 Person of the Year "The Protester"

The Occupy Wall Street movement has been one of the most significant political movement of the 21st century. The speed at which it was able to mobilize and build support is astonishing. This protest was not alone though; Time magazine investigates 2011, the year of the protester. Kurt Andersen explores how the protester became “a maker of history” once again. Through his comparison of worldwide protests that sparked in 2011, he demonstrates that despite their geographic distances, protests still lie very closely together. Some of the similarities between the protests included: the occupation of space, diversity and protesting the status quo. The Occupy Wall Street movement is able to build an army to protest via social media. Pictures, videos and written word are all transmitted different websites such as flickr, twitter or blogs. By using new types of media transmitters protesters were able to network across a nation quickly and easily. Without these tools the movement would not have as much diversity or power as it does today.

-Savannah R. Edwards


4 responses to “Social media quickly mobilizes an army

  1. coffeeshoprhino

    Any examples of this “new” type of communication in OWS?

  2. You make a very strong claim in saying that “The Occupy Wall Street movement has been the most significant political movement of the 21st century”–too strong, I would say. I base this on two claims:

    1. OWS is not quite a political movement. In their own words: “we don’t need politicians to build a better society” (see So, for now I think it’s safe to call it a social movement with political potential.

    2. OWS is not by a long shot the most significant movement of the century. When compared to other contemporary protest movements, OWS has low stakes and seeks only marginal societal improvement, whereas, as Kurt Anderson put it, “The protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are literally dying to get political systems that roughly resemble the ones that seem intolerably undemocratic to protesters in Madrid, Athens, London and New York City” (Anderson 2). Furthermore, OWS has made little concrete progress as compared to what progress was made by the protest movement in Egypt.

    I do not disagree with the remainder of your analysis, however you might consider redefining OWS as the most significant American social movement of the 21st century–there we could find some common ground to stand on.

  3. I would hardly call OWS the most significant political movement of the 21st century. Possibly the most well fed, but certainly not the most significant. A movement’s significance should be based on its, purpose, its, actions, and results, not its expediency in terms of gathering support. While OWS may indeed be an army built upon social media, networking alone does not ensure the success or even the importance of a particular project. Admittedly the availability and ease that images are recorded and shared can make any sort of social movement or gathering easier to record, but the fact remains that a movement productivity or “moral fiber” can not be based on how colorful their website is. In Raymond Schillinger’s article, Social Media and the Arab Spring: What have we learned? Shcilinger states that “The movements throughout the Arab world appeared to have imbued social media with an irrevocable sense of legitimacy as a tool for fomenting change.” This is an almost incontrovertible fact. However, the circumstances and conditions that defined that Arab Spring, ARE NOTHING LIKE PEOPLE CAMPING OUT IN TENTS IN NYC. There are a plethora of intertwining forces that come to shape revolutionary political movements and angry protests alike, and while social media is an effective tool for communication, it cannot define a movements significance.

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