Occupy Wall Street and Other "Revolutions" as the Ultimate Reality Shows [Repost]

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This post was originally published in November 2011 in a special two part series transatlantic blog post about Occupy Wall Street, on Nick Taylor’s thetwohalves.com, which is no longer available.

The situation isn't peachy. The global economic system is collapsing, the middle class is disappearing, and financial institutions have taken control of the fate of many countries and corporations. People are frustrated and want something else, they want a predictable and stable future. Hence the global Occupy Wall Street movement has been born, supported by various public figures and activist groups such as The Anonymous. Fueled by the success of the Arab Spring, these people are demonstrating against the domination of the rich 1% (or the ultra rich 0.1%), hoping to achieve a better world built on equality, opportunity and optimism.

When history looks upon the events that unfolded in 2011, it will probably view them similarly to 1848, when the Spring of Nations took place in Europe. But this time it's a bit different, it's a bit more theatrical. We're watching it live, and participating in it real-time. Everybody is in it, one way or another, the technology allows it, the people and the media amplify it. Even if you are just an observer, you pretty much know what's going on. People are squatting the streets, the police are trying to prevent it (violently), the corporations and political elites ignore it, some people support it, others don't.

These days, everyone can be a reporter. And most activists are. Equipped with laptops, tablets and smart phones, backed up by social media, thousands of tweets, blogs, pictures and videos are broadcast to the Web each minute. Uncountable number of actors, cameras and commentators make this event bigger than Big Brother, even bigger than The Truman Show. Occupy has become the ultimate global crowdsourced reality show happening non-stop, every minute, every hour, for days, even months.

The fascinating fact about this story is that you can choose the channel you want to watch. You can go directly to the source, to the people who are living it. You can consume it on the secondary level, where television and print media report their own, perhaps biased versions of what's happening. You can study the higher level interdisciplinary implications, such as these great Twitter visualizations of Occupy Wall Street or the Egyptian revolution. The Web is the playground with infinite toys.

But it's up to you if you want to get involved and contribute to the critical mass of this movement. Everybody can be a part of it, even if you're just watching or sharing information from the coziness of your living room. Perhaps you've finally been awarded with the opportunity to change the world. Probably not, but there's always a chance. And if the world won't change, you can at least participate in the show that will go down as one of the greatest reality shows of our time. Are you the 99%?

Check out the complete Occupy Wall Street series.

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written 23.12.2012 13:11 CET on chronolog
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