Massive revolts in Tunisia began the Arab Spring, which is a series of pro-democracy protests throughout the Middle East. These insurgencies led to the fall of dictators, monarchs, and in some areas, widespread violence. As social movements continue to spark across the Middle East, we in the west are dealing with similar reform movements.
Occupy Wall Street, largely a response to American and European financial atrocities, has captured just how universal the desire to be heard is.
College students and young people who use social media as a tool to assert their voices represent this desire. In this information age, we are able to communicate anything, to the extent of constitutional provisions, at any time.
Essentially, we all have been given a voice through mediums like Twitter and Facebook, and even the ability to send emails. Many of us cannot fathom the possibility of a world in which these instruments do not exist.
Thus, it is no surprise that these tools would be instrumental in rallying people with common interests. Likewise, it is without surprise that governments would feel threatened by the ability of the masses to unite and build in resistance.
In the Occupy movement, social media was instrumental in enabling people to organize their common goals. Word was actually spread online to gather Americans on Wall Street in order to show frustration towards corporations and the financial sector. Their motives were all unique but they had a common goal of reform that withstands today.
Groups of people continue to live in camps across U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, Oakland and Seattle. And even closer to home, we have seen Mary Washington students become inspired by the movement. The Facebook group “Occupy Mary Wash” was created and serves as an organizational tool for the group. Students also raise interests they feel should be addressed by the group, as well as brainstorm and interact with other students.
Students find out about upcoming meetings and events and collaborate all in one inclusive place and all on the individual’s time. This is something that would have never been able to occur were it not for these tools. Furthermore, once protests have begun, social media enables the happenings at these events to be shared even with those unable to attend.
In Oakland, several videos spread virally of police brutality against the occupiers. A video of Scott Olsen, an Iraq War veteran who suffered a fractured skull by a police projectile, invigorated the movement and rallied an incredible amount of support for its cause. History will judge the efficacy of the movement, but the story of Occupy would not exist without social media.