Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Lies We Believed In – Part Two: “We Will Succeed Because We Have The Internet”

 (and previous generations didn’t, because, look at them, they are, like, really old and wrinkly; they are, like, 50 and stuff and wouldn’t know how to “tweet” if a bird landed on their iPhones and did it for them)

Remember when we thought “the internet will save us”? Remember how confident we were because “social media allows us to communicate instantly” and how that was going to bring the Revolution sooner than you can say “re-tweet that tweet you tweeted”?

Those of us with a few more years on this planet, (in my case, 3 whole years*), raised eyebrows and went “weeeell…”. We were less than eager to, as the Spanish say, “sing victory” because we have been around the block and read our history and were there when Windows 95 launched and internet connection was done through the phone and started off with a “din din” sound. We knew, in short, some basic facts:

a) The internet has been around for a decade now. Mobile phones are just as old. And the Revolution still hasn’t come.

b) The latest technology is available for those wanting a Revolution and for those not wanting it. Yes, we have more “tools” to organize now. But “they” have the exact same tools and more and can stop us just as easily as they did in the past. If we have move forward ten steps, they have moved forward another ten steps so that the distance between them and us is the same. (In fact, it is larger now than it was in the 70s, but for other reasons).

c) This “internet” and “social media” thing? We don’t own it. We don’t control it. We are dependent on servers and websites owned by people who have every vested interest in keeping things the way they are now. (Google’s loyalties lie closer to the FBI than its “customers”. Because we are not, in fact, customers, but the products being sold.)

All of this could have been explained by a passing mention of “the print, baby” or “the radio, baby”. While we owned small printers, they owned newspapers. While we owned independent radio stations, they owned the BBC. And on, and on it goes.  

(This is the problem with thinking that just because you were born yesterday, so did the whole world, dissidents included).

Now it turns out that our beloved FB and Tweeter are *gasp!* turning against us. They are doing the unthinkable: they are siding with those who want to stop our campaigns! Oh noes, what shall we do now?

How about building a stronger movement that doesn’t rely so much on “social media”?

I am the last person to know anything about group logistics, and I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but even I can tell that if we rely on corporate-owned media to organize ourselves, it’ll only be a matter of time before we are stopped dead on our tracks.

We need alternative ways of communicating amongst ourselves. And we have to know who “we” are.  

We can use the most popular media available to spread the word far and wide and bring in the masses, and that’s great. But when it comes to taking direct action, say through the use of “civil disobedience”, we need to close ranks. It’s important to remember that there is a movement beyond “raising awareness”. And that taking direct action is a risky business, that it takes real courage. Because when push comes to shove, we can only rely on each other. 

(* that is, I'm 3 whole years older than some people who have been crying that "we will win because we have the internet)

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