Occupy: The story of a global grassroots movement, sparked by social media

As I approach my near 30 year mark on this earth I’ve recently thought about what those pivotal moments have been in my generation. In the 20’s it was prohibition. In the 60’s it was civil rights. And today, even with 9/11 and the war in Iraq (and it’s predecessor the Gulf War which I was around for) those events never really felt that close to home largely because they weren’t happening geographically close to me.

Until now.

Day 14: Occupy Wall Street - photos from the camp in Zuccotti Park and the march against police brutality, walking to One Police Plaza, headquarters of the NYPD.

The occupy movement that has taken the world by storm will be one of those events that I will be able to look back on and say, “I saw it with my own eyes”. Whether or not I agree with their grievances will go unaddressed but it appears that the fundamental issues at hand ring true globally. From Syndey to San Francisco, the occupiers have marched, sat, stood and fought for what they believe is just. And as a result, it has forced all constituents, old and young, to become that much more aware of what these 99% say is a pervasive problem.

Beyond the surface of this movement, however, is a bigger story about the power of the media, especially social media. The rate at which this movement caught fire was astounding. What started on Wall Street on Sept 17th, 2011 had spread to over 82 countries in a matter of one month…and is still in effect today. Social media was the catalyst for this global grassroots movement. “I think the online component was critical — the ability to stream video, to capture the images and create records and narratives of sacrifice and resistance,” said Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School.

Similarly, back in 2009 we saw just how powerful social media’s role was to the success/demise of civil matters. During 2009 Presidential elections in Iran, Twitter became the core news media outlet for citizen journalism when paid journalists, who were there to document the Iranian protests, were being ousted.

As social media becomes increasingly pervasive globally, and as young adults find their voice, moments like these will become a lasting swatch in the fabric of their lives. They will have lived it, breathed it, seen it and shared it to the rest of the world – all with the click of a few keys. They are realizing their collective potential to force change where and when they see fit. This is a cultural phenomenon that the world has never seen at this scale and it is probably just the beginning.

Sources: Wikipedia, NYT