The guardian made a very interesting video recapping the events of the #Occupy campaign. I think what shocked me the most was that the first week of protest had little to no media attention. But as soon as videos of police brutality started to appear. The media coverage boomed and the protest went into full swing. Looking at past protests police brutality seemed to be the reason for the protest. Its interesting to see the #Occupy movement take a huge leap when police started to fight back. People seem to rally together when police try to break up the protests in a violent fashion. In my opinion this is because people view this as a way for the government to restrict their freedom of speech
Something interesting that was brought up in this reading, especially in contrast with the readings and in-class viewing last week, was how the people of the Occupy movement credit their online resources in the success of the movement. Obviously the physical occupation of space was a very, very important tactic in this movement, but online resources seem to be considered by the protesters as just as important. The fact that Tumblr was the main platform of choice is significant for many reasons. I think the fact that it is a collaborative blog that can exist forever online speaks to this. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are constantly updated and content is always added, whereas a Tumblr blog can exist as is for however long the creator wants to to remain in a certain state. There was a huge continuation of the movement online after the physical occupations of spaces around the country, and these websites were a huge resource for raising awareness about the movement during and after that “moment.” The calls to action also began online. The reading mentioned that the movement was “born online” and born out of a network of activism. These sentiments are slightly different than those of the protesters in the Arab Spring, who seem more quick to attribute power to the people behind the screens. I understand both tendencies, and I think the American tendency to attribute more “power” to online resources has to do with how inundated technology is with out culture.
Manuel Castells discusses the Occupy movements that swept the country in the early 2010s in Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. He writes of the decentralization, leaderlessness, and horizontal communication of the movement and various attempts to focus in on commonalities among the movements. The Internet is an important tool for communicating in the movement, as well as in analyzing it. Castells brings up an attempt to study the erratic, diverse movements of the Occupy protests through Twitter.
“An unpublished study by Kevin Driscoll and Francois Bar at the University of Southern California Annenberg Innovation Lab collected Occupy tweets continuously beginning on October 12, 2011 by comparing them against an evolving set of approximately 289 related keywords and phrases. During the month of November, they observed approximately 120,000 Occupy-related tweets on a typical day with a peak of over 500,000 during the raid of Zuccotti Park on November 15. The analysis of Gilad Lotan on Twitter traffic related to the movement shows that the peaks are associated with crucial moments in the movement,” (171)
I think this is very fitting for a movement for and by the people, to determine its pivotal events based on the collective attention given to it by huge amounts of people over the Internet. It’s also a very interesting project to try to find commonalities among diverse Occupy movements around the US. Is this a productive use of time, though? The demands and makeup of the different Occupy movements are very different from each other and perhaps finding commonalities diminishes each groups’ autonomy and importance. Smaller occupy movements often seemed to get swallowed up in the bigger ones like Occupy Wallstreet, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, etc – especially to outsiders who didn’t quite understand the movements and their intentional lack of centrality.
Reading Revolution 2.0 by Wael Ghonim made me think about how to make social activism as personal as possible to the participants through social media, especially Face Book. In Chapter 3, he talks about writing on the page as a first person and writing about his personal feelings toward Khaled Said. He also mentions the time when his daughter drew a painting of Khaled Said and how she said that some policemen are bad and how that picture brought the participants on the activism to another level of connectedness. Many times, Facebook is used as a platform to do social activisms but there is a question whether people are participating” or not because they can just like things, post things from their bed, and not really do anything else (not that it is wrong or anything!). But bringing the participants to a personal level allowed and made them to do activisms outside the social media and actually go outside to participate so that the they can show how many people care about Khaled Said, and eventually made a change in the judgment of the police officer who tortured him.
I just wanted to bring this to everyone’s attention as I think it shows the intense discrimination against individuals with disabilities in educational settings. The fact that the president of such a large body would think it’s acceptable in a formal planned speech to refer to some children as “the chronically tarded and the medically annoying” is disgusting and just shows how sad the current status quo is. I do not share this to try to take away from any of the other social issues that are pressing at the moment, but just to raise awareness about another thing going on right now.
As a student organizer, I am interested in studying different movements in order to best create change at Claremont McKenna College. In the article, Manuel Castells details how people nationwide used the energy surrounding the crash of Wall Street to voice their concerns regarding the distribution of wealth in the United States. He also states that like CMCCO the collective consists of very different people with varying races, income, socio-political leanings, etc. circumstances and that led to the crash of Wall Street and the subsequent effects. Thus said, Castells’ analysis allowed me to reflect on the similarities of the circumstances that led to recent events at CMC and other colleges and universities across the United States. As a result, the reading raised an important question that I would like to pose to the class: How do marginalized students with intersectional identities enact change in higher education?
Although the occupy protests, at their very core, happened for different reasons than the protests that have been on-going on college campuses across the nation (including our own), I couldn’t help but find parallels within the Manuel Castells chapter in relation to what is happening currently. Although he said himself, “This is not a campus revolt,” in some ways (to me at least), it is.
I found myself seeing similarities in the way news spread; he described it as a fire across the prairie, “full of meaning. It shows the depth and spontaneity of the protest… It also shows the seizing of the opportunity by many to voice their concerns and to discuss alternatives in the midst of a generalized crisis.” I feel that many institutions across America took what started at Mizzou and began to voice their own concerns and become stronger in sharing their experiences and trying to find amends and ways to create institutionalized change. This also, to me, was reminiscent of the Revolution 2.0 piece, and how social media and discussions can be had and can spread more and more rapidly. Although all the incidents and articles are not directly related, it is possible to spot connections that these protests have—they all start with unrest, and bravery to stand up against the norm and take a stance.
Wael Ghonim was speaking on NPR in February 2012 about his memoir Revolution 2.0. I thought it was nice to hear his actual words after reading part of the book. A concept he returned to again was the idea that social media did not make the revolution happen, the people did. In the interview, after he was asked to comment on the role of sites like Twitter and Facebook in the revolution, he spoke about giving credit where it is due. Basically, he is talking about this idea that the power was/is with the people and not necessarily contained in these social media tools. Something else powerful he also talked about was that the revolution started in the streets and not online. Before the reading and before listening to this interview, something I had never considered was the fact that people more heavily associate the Arab Spring with the online/social media movements that happened online, rather than the actual people behind those hashtags/words/pictures etc. that are posted online. To me, until I heard Ghonim say it explicitly, I wouldn’t have thought it was necessary to clarify that the power of the revolution came from the people. I realize though, that especially in this American society, people often both hide behind their screens and don’t think deeply about something that is posted online. That is, think deeply about the face.voice/story behind what is online, unless that contemplation is very guided. So it does make sense that people, especially US citizens with no personal connection to these regions, wouldn’t think deeply about the actual people uprising, and would be comfortable reading the posts and feeling informed that way. This also got me to think about the importance of sites like NPR, because people who listen are able to place a voice or face behind the text in a screen. This is also powerful because hearing directly from Ghonim or others’ mouths, like the Egyptian women in the YouTube videos we saw in class, listeners know their words are not being changed or manipulated by anyone with a certain agenda.
I recently read this article by the Washington Post which compares the premise of the Hunger Games (rich citizens forcing poor citizens to fight one another to the death for their own entertainment while they watch from a comfortable distance) to Black Friday brawl videos. I had never thought much about these videos before except that they seemed to me like a grotesque display of American consumerism. After reading the article, I started to realize just how pervasive these videos were. I was seeing them everywhere, on every news channel, even during prime time. The news channels were using these fights like national headlines, some even choosing to prioritize Black Friday brawls over the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado, which struck me the most. I just want to take this time to warn any readers against the dangers of indulging in these videos. They are not without a heavy load of classism, and, much like the Hunger games, are used for the entertainment of nightly news watchers through the shaming and embarrassment of the lower class, for whom these deals are able to make a huge difference in their ability to provide presents for their children on christmas.
In the aftermath of the numerous tragedies that we have been experiencing internationally these past few weeks, there has been outrage over the amount of public attention given to one horrendous event over another. It is no surprise to me personally to see certain events, like the attack on Paris, being viewed with higher priority than those in Kenya for example. Not only is France an ally of America, but it is a European country. Beyond that, it is a famous city that many Americans have a personal connection to either through travel or through media. People feel like they know the place, and very few people comparatively feel like they understand the vast and diverse countries of the Africa and the Middle East. However, not being surprised and not being hurt are two different things completely. No one event is any more significant than the other. Ultimately, the massive attack on human life is a major loss not only to the families of those affected, but to the world.