It is time for Twitter and its citizens to take back #OccupyWallStreet.
I say that with no disrespect to the efforts and sacrifices of the people who have taken the hashtag literally and moved into Wall Street and cities around the world, confronting the institutions — financial, government, and media — they blame for our crisis.
To the contrary, I say it’s time to carry their work back to our virtual society, where it began, to expand the movement so Michael Bloomberg and his downtown goombas and mayors and cops cannot think that they are able throw it away in a garbage truck; so banks cannot hope to return to their old ways; so media cannot think that it can dismiss #OWS as fringe (see the BBC and the FT each calling the movement “anti-capitalist” when many of us say the real goal is to reclaim capitalism from its crooks).
It is much bigger than the scores of occupants in each city. But that still raises the question of what “it” is.
That is where I believe Twitter can grow and give shape to the movement. There we can answer the question, What are we mad as hell about (should that be a hashtag debate: #why…)? There we can organize no end of irritants for institutions (we can play whack-a-mole with the banks’ rip-off fees and leave them as customers). There we can hold politicians to account.
Some have argued that #OWS will not grow up as a movement until it becomes an institution and has leadership and spokesmen and unified goals and messages and even candidates for office.
#OccupyWallStreet, in my view, is anti-institutional in that it is fighting institutional power and corruption and in that it is not an institution itself. I believe the value of #OWS is that it enables us to say how and why we’re angry and to make the powerful come to us and beg us for forgiveness, not to join their games.
#OccupyWallStreet, the hashtag revolution, establishes us, the public, as an entity to be reckoned with. It is a tool of publicness.
So I support #OWS becoming less literal — let
Michael J Bloomberg tear down the tents — and more amorphous, more difficult to define and dismiss and shut down.
#OccupyWallStreet started on Twitter and spread to the streets. Now it’s time come back online and spread further.
Why are you mad as hell? And what are you going to do about it? That is #OWS’ challenge to us all.