Post Facebook

March 16, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Uncategorized

There has been a barrier preventing immigrants, gays, minorities and labor from achieving the power to gain respect.  Central to this barrier are media that rarely reflect the population that they broadcast to, instead hawking a conventional wisdom that serves controlling interests.

The huge immigrant rights demonstrations a couple years ago were driven in part by the participation of Spanish-speaking radio stations urging and informing people to participate.  These were very planned affairs coordinating an exclusive use of American flags vs. the flags of Latin nations, the wearing of white clothing and the participation of children.  Cell phones and text messaging were widely used to expand the crowds.  The effect was immediate and profound.  No anti-immigrant legislation was enacted.  A new organizing paradigm was born.

When opposition to Proposition 8 in California failed and gays lost the right to marry, and later when Gaza was attacked, spontaneous Facebook demonstrations proliferated across the country.  Cell phones and text messaging were widely used to inform.  Tens of thousands of people in hundreds of events congregated with little advanced notice.  Established organizers often arrived at demonstrations they did not themselves create, consulting and guiding overwhelmed Facebook sponsors as the events began.

When the rank-and-file union employees of the out-of-business Republic Doors and Windows manufacturing firm were denied over one million dollars in wages and benefits, they took over the plant and contacted the media.  Cell phones and text messaging were widely used to spread the word.  There was an immediate, powerful media response that emphasized the hypocrisy of the Bank of America refusing to take responsibility for workers’ wages after having received many billions of dollars in taxpayer money to make sure businesses weren’t denied credit.

Old media are being used in new ways.  New media are being used to achieve traditional goals.  Occasionally old media and old techniques still work.

It is looking like the Obama Administration will be experienced by many people as an opportunity to demonstrate and be heard.  It is clear that this is not a Left administration.  Still, there is evidence that the Obama Administration seeks to please.  That being the case, which processes, which tactics or which combination of tactics will most effectively compel the administration to pay attention?

Observing the ongoing, deep difficulties that the Left has speaking in one voice with a clear message using an agreed-upon tactic, it is easy to conclude that impact will not be coming from the traditional Left.  Youth and technology, particularly cell phone technologies, have been central to the successful calls for change that have been unfolding.

Unemployed and underemployed youth, and older folks introduced to the new technologies by the young, will be integral to the message-making machinery that reaches the Administration’s ears.

As the crowds grow larger and the people feel more empowered, there may emerge glitches in Facebook that will inhibit its seamless use as a tool for social change.  In its place will emerge other tools, social networking technologies unencumbered by corporate ties.  The power of these new tools will be indisputable as the tools reveal the effectiveness of specific social change interventions along with particular strategies and tactics.  People will be able to observe the results of their efforts and compare them with the interventions created by people with similar goals.

Whereas up to now social networking has been propelled by a desire for connection, observe the consequences of social networking driven by a desire for respect.

Old media and new media are transforming into a seamless whole.  How we mirror our experience and communicate conventional wisdom will change.  There will be new attitudes toward our leaders.  In the beginning, Obama will be blamed by media conventional wisdom for encouraging the use of new technologies to advocate change.  It will be perceived as a kind of chaos that will make the 60s seem sedate.  Yet, as the media themselves transform, that blame will cease.  Like the Spanish-speaking radio stations urging people to the streets, media will grow to reflect the people as the people view themselves, not as the corporations view them.

This will be painful.  It will at first be unfamiliar.  And, it will be ourselves, our own faces, that we’ll see and hear reflected back to us at last.


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