Tweet the People: Twitter Fueled the Revolutionaries in Tahrir, Will It Do the Same for “Occupy Wall Street”?
"As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together." -- Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
For over two weeks, protesters have been occupying Wall Street, primarily protesting corporate greed and economic inequality. The Canadian anti-consumerist "culture-jammer" group Adbusters, who called for a "Tahrir moment," instigated the ongoing protest with a blog post on July 13 that stated, "On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices...It's time for democracy not corporatocracy."
SO MANY DEMANDS, SO LITTLE ORGANIZATION
But the actual demands of the protesters have not been that simple. There are several proposed demands floating around, and the protesters have been criticized for not having a clear message. The Sovereign People's Movement has eight demands, including the elimination of "personhood" legal status for corporations and the passage of "revolving door legislation" that prohibits former government regulators from working for the corporations that they once regulated.
Some demands were more extreme. A poster named Lloyd Hart, for example, proposed 13 of them on the Occupy Wall Street online forum, including the outlawing of all credit reporting agencies and the "immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all."
BUT SOMETIMES GOOD IDEAS TAKE TIME TO PERFECT
Critics of OWS's nebulous nature should be reminded that it took 12 years from the time that Benjamin Franklin presented his plan for confederation until the final draft of the Constitution of the United States was sent to Congress. Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless movement that is barely over two weeks old. Whether or not the wisdom of the crowds will coalesce into something that legislators, regulators and CEOs can absorb and respond to remains to be seen. And anyway, as the events in Tahrir Square so vividly demonstrated early this year, pure, unadulterated democracy is a messy and often bloody business, but good ideas can and often do rise to the top.
"An idea takes time to form since it is often a collision of several different concepts," says Steven Johnson, author of the best-selling book Everything Bad Is Good for You and the founder of the online magazine FEED, in a TED presentation. "Connecting the dots becomes easier as new information becomes available."
THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TWEETED
For a look at some of the many dots that make up the somewhat organized yet somewhat vague protest movement that's currently underway in the streets of an increasingly chilly New York -- and the multifarious opinions about it -- Twitter offers a refreshingly, if at times maddening, undistilled view. The social media service was key to the success of the revolution in Egypt, providing not only the technology that made possible the quick and easy communication of information and ideas, but also a front-row seat for those around the globe who wished to witness the uprising unfold, second-by-second, without the interference of the mass media. It's doing the same for #OccupyWallStreet.
Herewith, some selected recent tweets marked with the #OccupyWallStreet hashtag.
@ndb29401: Traitors = outsourcers, banksters, and government Repeal & Prosecute Party. #OccupyWallStreet
@PartesanJournal: If u support protests against Obama & oppose #OccupyWallStreet u should not b claiming u believe in the 1st Amendment.
@randomdeanna: #occupywallstreet Sleeping bags are desperately needed.
@DanaPerino: As soon as the weather turns and the first frost occurs, #OccupyWallStreet will thin out dramatically. Like Biggest Loser type of thinning.
@JoshuaHol: It's completely shocking that the folks on my "serious" liberal list-servs are brimming with scorn for #OccupyWallStreet.
@Dubhuidhe: Nothing I enjoy more than reading the panicked posts of right-wingers feigning superiority as their world crashes on them. #OccupyWallStreet
@AntiSec_ : #occupywallstreet has inspired the world to occupy their cities. Finally, people are waking up and standing for what they believe in.
@OccupyWallStNYC: Dear #NYPD, if we give u $4.6M will u not arrest us? Seemed 2 work for @JPMorganBRK bankers. #occupywallstreet
@PennyRed: I was cold and ill at #occupywallstreet. They gave me a warm coat, medicine, a cuddle, hot coffee. This is how America should always be.
@benjbon: i need a good laugh - can someone send me the #occupywallstreet demands? Thanks.
@cnctNow: Not sure I understand or agree with #occupywallstreet protests. It seems to me it's protesting capitalism which is insane.
@SenatorSanders: Bernie now on MSNBC: "We've got to deal with the crooks on Wall Street." #OccupyWallStreet
@2centRant: People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. #OccupyWallStreet
@HackersCantHide: If you blame your parents for having you then #OccupyWallStreet.
@currysmith: Well, now I've heard it all. A zombie at #occupywallstreet was just interviewed by @NPR.
@FreeInTX: So, a few crazies and the whole group is bad? is there ANY group you align with that lack any crazies? #OccupyWallStreet
@DeepakChopra: On my way to #OccupyWallStreet to lead a meditation for social and corporate transformation.
@timoreilly: Easy prediction: #occupywallstreet gains steam, has major effect on US elections. I think this will eventually dwarf the Tea Party in impact.
@UtleyYATM: Didn't think I could think less of #occupywallstreet and then I saw their demands. #OccupyWallStreet
@twitsanon: Whether you agree with #OccupyWallStreet or not, at least they're getting off their butts and doing something.
image: Occupy Wall Street, October 1, 2011 (credit: Adrian Kinloch, Flickr Creative Commons)