After watching last night’s screenings on Ricardo Dominguez, the Zapatista Movement, and the Yes Men, and talking about “Flood Net”, I began to contemplate the differences between in person and online protesting.

Something I thought about a lot was how the message or goal of in person protests is often muddled by characterizations that media makes. With footage of the protests or movements and actual faces to put characterizations on, it is easy for the media to demonize a movement or devalue it. One clear example of this is the media’s unfair representation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Instead of focusing on the goal of the movement, many people attack it and this can be directly linked to how the media portrays BLM.

Alternatively, online media protests are more or less anonymous (for example the Zapatista/Flood Net one). With online media protests, could we get a movements message out there more efficiently? By this I mean, if the media is unable to put faces to a movement or showcase footage of a protest, wouldn’t we just have to focus on the movement’s message? The internet provides a platform for being anonymous, it is almost a universal tool, so why not use to protest in a way that empowers a movement? Maybe online protesting could be an answer to the misrepresentation of social movements?

On another hand, could this also be someone harmful? Do we need to be able to see who if affected by events, in other words, is it important that we aren’t anonymous as advocated?

I’m wondering what you guys think…in terms of taking protests online vs in person…what are the “pros” and “cons” of each?

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3 responses »

  1. hannahginsberg says:

    I think you raise an important question that is also severely complicated. I agree that often times in person protests can become muddled because anyone with a phone or video camera can record a protest and alter it so that the meaning of it becomes skewed. Yet at the same time in person protests also can create a community (similar to online protests) and perhaps can reach larger audiences then online. Although, I do believe that using online platforms as a way to protest is becoming much more popular and also has benefits such as remaining anonymous and retaining more control over the message. I think sometimes the manner in which one is protesting or chooses to protest also has to do with what they are protesting.

  2. jonesa0913 says:

    I also think your question is quite complex; however, I do no think online protesting is the panacea for the misrepresentation of BLM. One thing that complicates the question is not only the gaze of the spectators but the color of those spectated. Also, part of BLM’s message is to put faces to our collective frustration as means of defining our resistance. In short, our visibility is absolutely necessary on and offline because it puts forth the message that we have had enough. It may be more productive to teach people to critique the media they consume, dismantle the hegemonic forces behind mass media, and encourage people to produce alternate forms of media – all while promoting the balance of in-person and online protestation (because they are both very necessary).

  3. taliat says:

    I think you’ve raised some important things to think about here–my own life experiences have caused me to be wary of the downsides of anonymity. I know that in many cases this anonymity is crucial in order to insure the safety of participants, but I don’t like how anonymity can be used to mask someone’s true agenda. I have seen the toxicity of this in my own activist communities, as people from outside communities have come in and pretended to be invested in issues in order to paint the community in a negative light or cast doubt on the intentions of the group. For some reason, people seem to be drawn to this type of attack on a cause, and I have seen it happen and how harmful it can be.

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