A beautiful anarchy
|September 28, 2011||Posted by Sophy Bot under Internet culture, Politics|
Whether they’re occupying Wall Street, revolting in Egypt, or rioting in Greece, the galvanizing ground for the recent uptick in worldwide protests is the same: the internet. More than just a place to spread ideas and sort out logistical issues, the internet itself has changed the way we view politics. As a new article by the New York Times points out, today’s youth is turning away from traditional political models in search of an experience similar to the one they find online. Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, explains:
“You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing… They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”
Meanwhile, public attitudes towards the press are hitting record lows as the openness of the web allows traditional paradigms to be called into question. And indeed, today’s internet-bred society is used to questioning everything not out of malice, but out of plain old-fashioned curiosity. In an age where the answer to almost any question is just a few clicks away, we are no longer willing to take old truths for granted. If told about a recent news story, we hop online and research it for ourselves. New restaurant in town? Hop online and see what people are saying about it. New movie in the theaters? Hop online and check out the cast. New politician coming into office? Hop online and check out his record. And so it goes.
The recently increasing rates of worldwide uprisings have at their core a simple truth: that modern culture is all about participation. Perhaps Laurence Lessig put it best when he noted that we’ve gone from a Read Only culture to a Read/Write culture. Be it politics, news or music, we want to play our part. We will not blindly accept decisions made behind closed doors. We will not obey rules without understanding their underlying reasons. We will prod and we will question, and when we ask “Why?” we will no longer accept the answer “Because.” We are living in the age of the remix, and until politics is able to adequately adjust to the realities of a participatory, internet-connected world, the uprisings will continue. And no amount of pepper spray will stand in our way.
Photo credit: Ian Murphy