Virtual March on Wall Street and Online Activism
// Posted by Vicky on 03/25/2013 (12:27 PM)
On October 5th, 2011 thousands of people gathered in Lower Manhattan to take part in the Occupy Wall Street Solidarity March. The march protested against the growing income divide and widespread unemployment due to the influence and corruption of large corporations and big banks. But what about the millions of Americans not living in New York who were likewise outraged and suffering from the greedy bankers and unjust policies that wrecked our economy and undermined our democracy? How could they get involved? How would they get their message across? Well on October 5th OWS joined forces with MoveOn and used the “third space” to gather nationwide support through a Virtual March on Wall Street. The virtual march allowed users to upload pictures of their own protest signs and tell their stories online. It added thousands of voices from across the country and showed just how widespread outrage at Wall Street really was. (Check it out http://civic.moveon.org/occupy/)
The virtual march on Wall Street is just one example of how the Internet and technology “a community of more than 7 million Americans from all walks of life who are using the most innovative technology to lead, participate in, and win campaigns for progressive change.” They have utilized the third space in numerous ways such as online-petition signing and online fundraising. MoveOn is a United States based and strictly American targeted group, but this is an example of how the internet and technology can be used to link issues from a small town in say Indiana to larger towns such as New York; it makes the local national. As Sassen writes, “Computer-centered interactive technologies have played an important role…these technologies facilitate multiscalar transactions and simultaneous interconnectivity among those largely confined to a locality” (366).
I believe the advantages of digitization and activism to be clear, but the disadvantages also need to be addressed. In traditional forms of activism: protesting, marching, journalism etc. there is always a traditional form of authority to maintain law and order. But on the Internet traditional forms of authority fall short, especially when things can be posted anonymously. Are we okay with activism that can’t be monitored or truly governed over? What happens if that activism turns violent or dangerous? What about “hacktivism”? We must remember while digitization and technology opens the door to many positive possibilities it likewise brings negative possibilities along with it.