The purpose of our analysis over the past couple of months has been to discover what the Occupy Wall Street movement is and what it does. The most popular common reference, Wikipedia explains, “Occupy Wall Street is a protest that began on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district. The main issues are social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector.” While I will agree that Occupy Wall Street is a protest movement against social and economic inequality from the influence of corporations, I will analyze it through the lens of Twitter, the device that delivered its message. By looking at it through Twitter, Occupy Wall Street is a media-fueled, grass roots, horizontal movement.
First, it’s important to look back at the beginning of the movement. “On July 13 Adbusters magazine sent out a call to its 90,000-strong list proclaiming a Twitter hashtag (#OccupyWallStreet) and a date, September 17” (Schneider.) It partnered with an image of a ballerina atop a chagrining bull quickly spread amongst the young, tech-savvy generation. The meme spread and by early August activists began meeting in New York to plan. Adbusters decided that just bringing 20,000 people together to march wouldn’t be enough, instead they needed to plant seeds to grow across the nation. They encourage their followers to spread their coverage of Occupy protests. Creating a horizontal spread of individuals with equal power and voice.
Next, Twitter above any other social networking site has provided the perfect structure for the OWS movement. Currently the official of occupywallst.org (@OccupyWallSt) has over 150,000 followers and has made nearly 7,000 tweets. By simply typing #OccupyWallSt into the search bar a user becomes immersed in rhetoric about equality. Users can upload words of inspiration, photographs and videos on Twitter (some examples are included in this post). As the post “Social Networking Brings Strength in Numbers” points out, the ease and accessibility for users allows for a diverse group of individuals to share power. There is no clear movement, and #OccupyWallSt on Twitter proves that the movement is not looking for one leader. They are giving voices to others and spreading awareness via individuals. The Occupy Wall Street movement is able to build an army to protest via social media.
The protesters behind the Occupy movement are trying to make the world a better place. They’re hoping to transform the interests of politicians from big business to their constituents. As I pointed out in my last post, there is a parallel between the American Revolution and the revolution that OWS is trying to ignite. Armed with Twitter and Flickr, Occupy protesters are proving that their grass roots movement is trying to gain representation.
Savannah R. Edwards