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The Evangelists of Social Media

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by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Just because millions of people can interact at the speed of light, does not mean they are going anywhere. Indeed, by providing the illusion of common action, social media tend to suppress the kind of methodical organizing necessary to sustain a real “movement.” And, who owns the new media, anyway? The super-rich. Social media are “perfect for illusion-development and propaganda dissemination but horrible for the oppressed engaged in political struggle.”

 

The Evangelists of Social Media

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

All this persistent chatter about new media technology improving the world – and improving even radical political organization – is little more than a de facto public relations campaign.”

The “evangelists of social media,” according to Malcolm Gladwell, want us to believe that the revolution we all want has simply been awaiting Twitter or Facebook accounts. And having now achieved them by the hundreds of thousands these evangelists would have us believe that success – political, economic or social – is inevitable. But all this persistent chatter about new media technology improving the world – and improving even radical political organization – is little more than a de facto public relations campaign. Somehow that which happens to increase the ability of the “superclass” to enrich itself and promote its interests can also, coincidentally, make possible the revolution that will overthrow them. Its pure propaganda, the effect of which is to help reduce our capacity to develop radical political movements.

There would seem, also coincidentally, more than a passing connection between the deplorable state of radical politics in this country and this rising mythology of “social media” leading us to a new organizational promised land. More than a few speakers and participants at the recent One Nation rally congratulated Facebook and Twitter users for helping to mobilize more people faster than at any other time in history. This is actually a popular theme among activists at most of their gatherings these days. But worse still was that these voices included NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Jealous. The statement was made as if this storied organization, whatever we may think of it, had never before been able to organize its members. As if the problem the NAACP has faced all these years was an inability to move so many so quickly. This praises speed at the expense of careful education and reasoning. Or was the NAACP’s involvement merely a hired response to an even more compromised labor movement?

The internet gives us weakly-tied lose bonds of “networks” which create mobs of uninformed, untrained, ill-prepared sheep.”

Remember, Rosa Parks did not sit down that day as some random act of a tired worker. She did so because she had been trained to do so since she joined the NAACP in 1932. We discredit our struggle by dismissing acts of courage as simple accidents as opposed to the results of careful planning and strategy. The original March on Washington had at least as many participants as this One Nation silliness. The Million Man March, also in the pre-internet era, had 10 times more. Shoot, African people in this country have been fighting so long to develop powerful and threatening alternative methods of communication that as far back as 1775 John Adams, fearing the impending rebellions that came with reasoned, planned and strategic communication noted that “The Negroes have a wonderful art of communicating intelligence among themselves.”

The speed of the internet is more than mitigated by the absence of thoughtfulness, intimate strategy and reasoned planning that most often accompanies it. If anything, we should consider this the intent of military technology imposed on us with the sleekest of public relations techniques. While it may at times make our lives easier it can also quickly give us any number of branded phenomena from tennis shoes to presidents, from movies to social movements. This in part is Gladwell’s point. The lunch counter takeovers that launched the modern civil rights movement occurred at the tail end of planning, strategy, training and all with a “military precision” from what he calls the “strong-tie” intimacy of ordered, hierarchical organization. On the other hand, the internet gives us weakly-tied lose bonds of “networks” which create mobs of uninformed, untrained, ill-prepared sheep perfect for illusion-development and propaganda dissemination but horrible for the oppressed engaged in political struggle.

Our use of the internet should be only to promote support for locally-based community media, from community, low-power and mixtape radio ventures to intimate in-person grassroots political organization. Gladwell was indeed correct, “the revolution won’t be tweeted” and neither will it be cheap, easy or come at the speed of a clicking mouse.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached at freemixradio@gmail.com.

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Comments

A MYTH? REALLY?

We in the Tea Party are spreading news, money and activism through social media much to the chagrin of establishment types.  Both parties wish we would get in line and do what we're told but we're making our own way in spite of them.  Ask yourself this: Who is the leadership in the Tea Party and how do they get millions of people to DC for a rally?  Are we all on Glenn Beck's email list?  The Dem's and GOP would love to be able to cut the head off this Hydra but they can't find it because it's grassroots.  Sorry, y'all but the facts are the facts whether you believe them or get pushed aside by them.

You can fool most of the people most of the time--

--especially in Texas, where literacy is viewed as one more curse of The Enlightenment.

Why don't you read the articles in BAR before you make your flatulent comments?

"The lunch counter takeovers that launched the modern civil rights movement occurred at the tail end of planning, strategy, training and all with a “military precision” from what he calls the “strong-tie” intimacy of ordered, hierarchical organization. On the other hand, the internet gives us weakly-tied lose bonds of “networks” which create mobs of uninformed, untrained, ill-prepared sheep perfect for illusion-development and propaganda dissemination but horrible for the oppressed engaged in political struggle."

No, I'm still right

Tea Party groups all over the country have training sessions on activism at all levels.  We train on conventions and parliamentary rules, legal terms and how to organize and introduce legislature.  In case you haven't noticed, there are Tea Party candidates running for every office from City Council to Senator.  In 2012, we'll even have presidential candidates.  The point you should take away from this is that all of these efforts are organized at the grassroots level using social media.

 

By the way, I'm old enough to remember some of the events from the civil rights years.  If you're saying people PLANNED on being beaten with billy clubs, stripped by fire-hoses or chewed on by dogs, I'd like to see evidence of that.  Did the Black Panthers, MLK and Malcom organize, meet and plan?  Heck yeah but I know for a fact that some people were victims of violence BECAUSE they got caught unaware.  Others tried to mimic the movements of their heroes and got hurt.

Respectfully disagree

 

Tea Party groups all over the country have training sessions on activism at all levels.  We train on conventions and parliamentary rules, legal terms and how to organize and introduce legislature.

 

I have no reason to doubt your word on what you and your group do.  Articles like Taibbi’s suggest that not all Tea Party groups function as democratically.    

 

In case you haven't noticed, there are Tea Party candidates running for every office from City Council to Senator.  In 2012, we'll even have presidential candidates.  The point you should take away from this is that all of these efforts are organized at the grassroots level using social media.

 

Again, I’ve read that many of these efforts are instigated and manipulated by faux grass root organizations which front for powerful, corporate supported foundations. 

 

"By the way, I'm old enough to remember some of the events from the civil rights years.  If you're saying people PLANNED on being beaten with billy clubs, stripped by fire-hoses or chewed on by dogs, I'd like to see evidence of that." 

 

They anticipated these outcomes and trained so they might respond in an organized, non-violent way.  

 

I apologize for the incivility of some of the things I’ve written.  You maintain civility in your comments, which is admirable, and which I can learn from.

 

But I respectfully disagree with most of what you say.

We're good

Dosamuno, I've lived in alot of places.  My dad was a 23 year Navy veteran and I went into the Army right out of high school.  With all that cultural exchange and adaptation, I've learned A LITTLE about patience.  "A little" is in caps because I still have challenges.  I say all that to say this: I'm not offended by a brisk debate over important issues.  I appreciate your passion and wish ALL Americans had such a well defined idea of what would be a great country to pass to our heirs.  "As iron sharpens iron" I hope that we temper and sharpen each other and work together to give our kids a country that they too can be proud of.

Thanks Jared

Thanks Jared for the great article. I don't no where to begin to express my agreement, although I must say I have fallen into the same trap with Facebook. Got to get out or change my behavior there soon.

I was shouting what you just wrote during that green, hyper-real, failed Twitter Revolution (organized by disgruntled elites from above) in Iran. The roots of what the media now does to methodical organizing, and more importantly methodical thought in general, and how it is no accident but part of a strategy designed by the ruling elites to modernize their hegemony, was discussed in 1975 in a series of essays by Pier Paolo Pasolini published under the title Scritti Corsari. The strategy is much more sinister than one suspects and it is working to lobotomize would-be thinking youths and turn them into decultured hedonists. It started with televison and it currently operates with Twitter, Facebook and iPads etc..

On a funny note, however, if you google Malcolm Gladwell together with his term "the evangelists of social media", you will find a huge collection of (sometimes proto-fascist) outrage over Maxwell's arguments from the followers of this new Pied Piper technology. Outrage, ridicule, nervousness. "How dare he!"

Great article

The articles on this site never cease to impress me.  I've been living out of the US for some time so I was a bit behind with things like Twitter.  I quickly became sick of constantly hearing about what so-and-so is doing on Twitter, who tweeted what, and so on. 

This idea of a "Twitter" revolution smacks of typical liberal fantasies about tech-savvy young people saving the world without offending or upsetting anybody(HINT: the ruling class).  And like all liberal fantasies, look how it's been used to further the US agenda in places like Iran, where we hear about brave twitter warriors.  Or look how a handful of bloggers in Cuba are made into heroes against the "evil" totalitarian government. 

It's just like the liberal fantasies about the Orange and other "color" revolutions in the Former Soviet Union and Central Asia.  Young people challenge corrupt or allegedly corrupt elections with rock concerts.  Corruption on the part of the hip, US backed candidates is totally ignored.  And yet what were the results of these "revolutions"(asside from putting money in the hands of foreign investors)?

Ukraine: Economic crisis, corruption, sex trafficking, same as always.

Georgia: The president started a war, then caused panic after faking another war.

Kyrgystan: President was incredibly corrupt. 

Aside from all the liberal mythology there is the fact that social networking sites make it very easy for LE and other agents to infiltrate, keep tabs on, and control subversive groups.  While these new technologies can be useful, we would be incredibly stupid to think they can deliver any kind of revolution. 

The Revolution will not be "tweeted"

Excellent run down of the faux revolutions and the lies behind them. McCain said, "We are all Georgians now."  I say, "my ass."  The Propaganda Machine aka US Media flat out lied about the causes and effects of the Georgian war.  Saka shit started the war, Ahmadejinad won the Iranian election (he didn't steal any more votes than the GOP did in 2002 and 2004).  And all of the so-called "colored" revolutions are in the dust-bin of history.  In several instances, the "democratic yearnings" we replaced with despots in power.

I don't do face book, I don't engage in "relationships" over the internet, these are not profound meaningful relationships.  And it exhibits an inordinate degree of pitiful self-absorption.

If the information ain't worth a damn then why should I follow someone's tweets?  Here's the net effect:  gargage in, garbage out.



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