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Tag: Occupy Wall Street


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Occupy Wall Street: Misguided Movement?

// Posted by on 02/24/2014 (10:58 PM)

While there is a lot go be said about how a global movement stemmed from one Tweet, after reading the article “Inside Occupy Wall Street” I began to think of how the “message” of the OWS movement could possibly be… Read more

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While there is a lot go be said about how a global movement stemmed from one Tweet, after reading the article “Inside Occupy Wall Street” I began to think of how the “message” of the OWS movement could possibly be misunderstood. More specifically, I was interested in figuring out what different kinds of people were involved in this movement that had such a global influence. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that more than a third of the activists involved in the OWS movement in New York City had household incomes over $100,000. Further, a survey showed that the people involved in the occupation of Zuccotti Park were more affluent, whiter, younger, and more highly educated than the average New Yorker (Study: OWS Was Disproportionately Rich, Overwhelmingly White), a majority of them were college students from distinguished schools, such as Bard, as well. Therefore, the idea that the people of the OWS movement were the 99% and are taking on the 1% is not exactly valid…

Interestingly, it has actually been a historically common pattern for rich people to speak on behalf of the poor. And the fact that these people are involved doesn’t necessarily invalidate any of the specific claims that are made by OWS, but it makes us question the reasons as to why these rich kids show up in the first place. Is it their guilty conscious? Are they angry teenagers rebelling against their parents? Are they bored? Do they feel a sense of self-importance stemming from their wealth? It is troublesome for me to think that these rich kids are trying to get rid of the very class they came from.

 

This picture shows a self-proclaimed rich girl:  she inherited money at 21 and has had health and dental insurance all her life. Sure, her ideas of leveling the playing field align with the slogans of the OWS movement, but, I have trouble with her saying she wants to be taxed in order to help out with the movement. Why doesn’t she just donate her money to a good cause or a productive charity instead? That way her money is going directly to those in need… The government might not even use the money she gives from taxes to help the people who need it. It might be used to finance the NSA surveillance programs, for example. Additionally, this girl didn’t even earn that money– it was given to her. Is this her guilty conscious speaking? Would she feel the same way about higher taxes if she had earned that money herself? Questions to consider…

The article Occupy Wall Street: Children of the 1% out for  good time at the protests  displays pictures of college kids smoking pot, handling large amounts of money, flashing expensive wallets and wearing $300 jeans… I am not sure if I can take these kids seriously. Clearly they amount of enjoy the money they have. I think in some ways these displays destroy the “message” of OWS.

I am wondering if the fact that this has become such a global movement and the fact that many people from many different backgrounds and cultures are involved, that the message of the movement can become blurred. It seems like since the crowd has such a big range of people– from old and homeless to young and rich- that each individual has a different idea of what the movement means to them, if anything at all, which can potentially weaken the strength of the collective message.

 

 


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This is What Democracy Looks Like

// Posted by on 02/23/2014 (8:03 PM)

After reading Jeff Sharlet’s article, Inside Occupy Wall Street, it is obvious how much power and influence technology has in our society.  The product of a simple yet powerful tweet, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration proved itself to be… Read more

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After reading Jeff Sharlet’s article, Inside Occupy Wall Street, it is obvious how much power and influence technology has in our society.  The product of a simple yet powerful tweet, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration proved itself to be much more than a mere protest as it inspired a media awareness that lead to Occupy movements worldwide.  After observing the movements growth over the period of a few months, Sharlet, someone whose spent years immersed in the right wing, refers to the OWS movement as “an incredible display of political imagination”.  Indeed, the movement was one-of-a-kind as it united diverse groups of people through technology, promoting a kind of shared voice while simultaneously creating a community that was truly unique.

It is not uncommon for one to as what was that something protesters were fighting for?  As Sharlet mentions, Adbusters had proposed a “‘worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics,’ but their big ideas went no further than pressuring Obama to appoint a presidential commission on the role of money in politics”.  Although they had initiated the beginnings of the protest, they were unaware that they had begun a movement that reached unimaginable heights.  What amazed me was the progression in size of the movement and protesters that loyally followed.  It had begun with around 2,000 individuals but quickly grew, attracting people from all over.  With the creation of a public clinic, library, and kitchen, the Occupy Wall Street movement had created a new whole.  It is almost as if they created a world within a world.  People committed to the cause considered this home and seemed to have this sense of shared generosity and spirit.  People were, undoubtedly, attracted to OWS for different reasons.  As protester Jesse Legraca admitted, he was first drawn to the park after seeing a topless girl.  And the addition of free food did not hurt either.  Fellow protester David Graeber, in contrast, was a radical anthropologist and anarchist who was committed to the cause and even created the theme to the overall movement.

This idea of unification is what drove Occupy Wall Street and allowed it to function for as long as it did.  As previously mentioned, Graeber created a theme for the movement, “we are the 99%”.  This movement was particularly different than past ones as there were no designated leaders or speakers.  People, rather, functioned as a large group and were excited by the idea that they were taking true advantage of democracy.  Thus, this feeling of genuine democracy is a significant aspect of the OWS movement.  As Shalret states, many Americans view “democracy as little more than an unhappy choice between two sides of the same corporate coin”.  With minimal agency, the chance to be part of a real decision—to make a change—is an exciting prospect. With no defined reasons or statements telling people why they needed to come to the OWS demonstration, it created this sense of liberation and open communication.  People came to the cause to decide as a whole what their aim was and what decisions to were to be made.  OWS protesters had one voice, literally, as they adopted a new form of amplification—the human microphone.  This only emphasized the idea that every individual could be heard and served only to further unify the community.

For a leaderless movement, Occupy Wall Street was an extremely unique demonstration of the power of technology in our society.  The movement in itself was created and further perpetuated through technology and media.  It is obvious that a movement like this could not have existed even twenty years ago and just highlights how quickly technology has progressed throughout the past decade.  The question is, what will come next?  How will protests or social/political movements function in a decade? How will technology continue to shape our world and will it be for the better?


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Occupy Wall Street

// Posted by on 02/23/2014 (5:35 PM)

This week we read an article by Jeff Sharlet called, “Inside Occupy Wall Street.” Sharlet shed some light on what Occupy Wall Street (OWS) really is and the enormous impact it has made around the world. I was never educated… Read more

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This week we read an article by Jeff Sharlet called, “Inside Occupy Wall Street.” Sharlet shed some light on what Occupy Wall Street (OWS) really is and the enormous impact it has made around the world. I was never educated or award of the magnitude of OWS and the amount of people involved in the movement. At first after reading the article and developing my knowledge on the situation, it is still difficult for me to really understand the whole purpose of the protest. Why are thousands of people camping out in this park for months trying to get Wall Street’s attention? Do they want business professionals to walk out of their building and hand these people jobs? I just did not see the end goal all of these protesters were aiming for. However after the class discussion, I am starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together a little more now. I understand that all they want is for them, “the 99%” to have a level playing field with the 1%, Wall Street businessmen and women. However, is that a realistic goal, to make everyone equal? How will the economy appreciate and grow overtime if no one is trying to work his or her way up the professional latter?

The first sentence of Sharlet’s article also blew my mind, as I was completely unaware that this global/universal movement came from one simple Tweet and hashtag, #occupywallstreet. It is events like this that truly show the world how incredibly powerful technology is becoming. Social media has changed the world forever. Would OWS been as big if people tried to form it in the 40s? There is no way. People around the world would not have heard about this protest without the type of technology we have today. It is due to things like Twitter, Facebook, online newspapers, etc, that these events get the media’s attention all throughout the world. With the knowledge of the movement through technology, more and more people began showing up to the park to help protest. Technology allowed Occupy Wall Street to reach the magnitude it did. Without it, the movement would not be talked about today and would have sizzled out long ago. It would not have become such a global sensation the way it did. Technology, with the help of social media allowed for all of these people to join together and be part of something larger than themselves. The dedication from these people, I will say, impresses me. I cannot believe some stayed for weeks, even months at a time to prove to the world things need to change. The efforts from these people are incredible.

After reading Sharlet’s piece and again seeing the powerful of technology and how persuasive it can truly be, scares me. Anyone has the capabilities to tweet whatever they want and develop millions of followers. This is exactly what happened when a male teenager posted on his Facebook page that he had a good idea to raid a mall and begin shoplifting and hurting people. The post received many comments and likes. Many of his friends and their friends began joining the group and were eager to help in his horrific act. Without the power of Facebook and the abilities it has to reach millions of people, this would never have happened. This is why when technology and social media falls into the hands of the wrong people it can become incredibly scary and harmful. But is there anyway of stopping it?


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Virtual March on Wall Street and Online Activism

// Posted by 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… Read more

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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.


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Occupy London

// Posted by on 03/25/2013 (1:24 AM)

The Occupy Movement that began in 2011 as Occupy Wall Street became an international call for mobilization of “the 99%.” Hundreds of websites around the world were created to represent the total movement along with individual branches of Occupy. The… Read more

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The Occupy Movement that began in 2011 as Occupy Wall Street became an international call for mobilization of “the 99%.” Hundreds of websites around the world were created to represent the total movement along with individual branches of Occupy. The feelings of social and economic inequalities were so strong that the movement continued for years, resulting in camp-outs all over the US and far beyond.

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This is the video from the “About” section on the OccupyLondon website.

In London, the Occupy movement used the #occupylsx, #occupylondon, and #olsx as trending terms for twitter. Their website, occupylondon.org.uk, has all the information about events, social media, getting involved, and donating. On the homepage is a declaration of sorts that declares their 10 initial statements, agreed upon by the hundreds of people that gathered on October 26, 2011 in front of St. Paul’s. October wasn’t the only uprising though – in May 2012, Occupy protesters at the Bank of England were arrested on a global day of action. During this day, thousands of people in cities including Athens, Moscow, New York, Barcelona and Madrid rallied their forces in protest of inequality. BBC News referred to the event as a powerful symbol. Protesters named the march “visiting the 1%” and stopped at the largest banking institutions, including Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

Given all the so-called power of global influence, exposure, and support, how successful was Occupy London? Did the constant tweets, updates, and physical presence In a BBC article from after the removal of the tents, the sentiments are mixed. Overall, there is a sense that the movement was too disorganized, with too many ambitions and protesters with far ranging objections, which made the outcomes unrealistic. Occupy London focused on income inequalities, to which David Skelton, the deputy director and head of research at the Policy Exchange think tank, replied “Whether or not [the concept of the 99% and 1%] would have come about without the Occupy London camp is another argument.” (Cacciottolo, 2012) Another article from 2012, a year after the camps, found that the sentiments were mainly that Occupy London was ineffective in having real changes in attitudes and actions. The movement brought issues to policymakers attention, but further than that could not boast any tangible changes in feeling.

Right now, @OccupyLondon has 38,420 followers, almost 13,00 tweets, and thousands more re-tweets and tweets under their trending terms. @OccupyWallStNYC has close to 150,000 followers (for comparison). From the information I’ve uncovered in various articles, social media had a limited impact on the Occupy London movement. This is different from what I expected, considering that the London Stock Exchange is such an important piece of the global market.


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