Tag Archives: facebook

Occupier + current system + social media = ?

20 May 2012: The police crack down pretty hard on the Occupiers in Chicago today during their Anti-NATO protest.

I found this photograph moving around Facebook and I thought I’d post it.  I thought the Occupy protests were winding down, but based on this chaos, I’d say I was quite off the mark.

The focal point of the image is the young man guarding himself against a police officer, as well as on the overwhelmed and scared woman with the camera.  I feel like this image represents three main elements of the entire Occupy movement really well.

The young man represents the generic Occupier: the recent college graduate, possibly a hipster, who feels the need to stand out against the current regime and say that he doesn’t approve of the current status quo.  His hands are up to shield himself against the night stick, but the look on his face isn’t necessarily one of fear.  There is determination there, a confidence that comes out if you stare a little longer at him, and you can see that he isn’t just going to defend himself against the police officer, he is willing to take him on.

The police officer is not only representative of police presence and the issues that have come out of that during Occupy, but the illustration of faulty government itself.  The police are supposed to protect citizens, just as the government is supposed to benefit the people, but clearly the police were not protecting anyone but themselves in Chicago today, and clearly the system is not working for the governed because groups like the Occupiers and the Tea Partiers exist.

Finally, the woman with the camera represents media, more specifically social media.  Before social media took off, people heard about things like this through news articles or segments done by professionals.  Ideally, the news is supposed to be unbiased but it rarely is.  Now, with social media, people who were actually there in the moment can show their own evidence to anyone they want at lightning speed for free.  With these kinds of resources, the moments like this will always be available to the public and the truth will never be forgotten.

The Occupier, the current system and social media. Put them all together and what do you get?  Based on this photo, a real Charlie Foxtrot.



Ample Networking

Logistics is the detailed management and coordination of a complex operation. In Ben Brandzel’s article, he examines claims made by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell adamantly states that online organization is not effective in creating long-lasting social progress. In other words, the background operations (flow of goods, information, and people) of prior grassroots movements trumps logistics implemented by today’s online Internet-enabled activism. Gladwell also argues how Internet activism is only able to result in small social changes, which lack the huge societal impact that riots and sit-ins did during the Civil Rights Era.

To completely dismiss Internet-driven social activism is ignorant. Gladwell states that the only promises that Internet and social media platforms can make are for an unparalleled flow of information and the potential for learning. What Gladwell failed to analyze is how even though the approaches to activism organization have altered throughout the past couple decades, the yielded ambition has not. Gladwell points out that organizing online promotes tapping into weak relationships. These relations should not be seen as weak connections, but as opportunities. Now, through Twitter, Facebook, and countless other social media platforms, one is able to tap into these “weak contacts” and make them acquaintances, in turn, enabling them to spread the word to their close friends. The Internet’s supposed only promise of flowing information is the upheld and manifested through the creation of a vast network of consciousness and engagement.


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.