Thursday, August 11, 2011

The New Sounds of Protest

Sometimes it’s simplicity that best captures our imagination. Facing its own financial crisis and a major clamp down on public protest, calls for reform among Belarus’ anti-government protesters has given rise to a new sound of protest – first organized ‘clapping’ and now, synchronized mobile phone alarms.

Highlighted in a recent NYT article – the clamp down of ‘clapping protests’ has resulted in more than 1,830 protestors’ being detained since June. More than 500 have received prison sentences of between 5 to 15 days. The extent of the situation was illustrated in court recently when a protestor – defending police claims of clapping – raised to the judge his one arm.

The response? Welcome to “mobile phone action”, engineered via social media channels. Young flash mob groups converge on the streets, then at the appointed time their mobile phone alarms sound simultaneously. It leaves officials stumped – is this is in fact a protest? Who is responsible? What action can be taken?

History has taught us that protest doesn’t need to be complicated to be profound – it can be as simple as sitting down in a public place (or throwing a shoe!). The power of protest lies in simple human communication. Add just a little creativity and expressing yourself becomes irresistible – and irrepressible.


Eilish Bouchier said...

Thank you. Could we get this on the front page of the newspapers in england. I'm with these guys and with gandhi. So sad to see what is happening in the UK. How many lives will be ruined by this senseless adrenaline rush.

flipper3 said...

It is interesting how technology and new media can be used to show community solidarity. An on-line auction in New Zealand became media headlines when it exposed the racism and bigotry of a minority of people. The auction was for nothing more than a personalised license plate simply with the word MAORI on it. Media pounced on the negative racial comments of a few. Although the comments were a window into some elements of society, what was more overwelleming was the rallying of the community. Before the auction finished it had had more than 120,000 viewings with hundreds of people posting their positions. A true indication of a community wanting to have its say in the unlikeliest of places. What had been an auction became a place to rally, to discuss, to unite.