The Occupy Movement and Phones

15 Nov

I don’t intend this to be a very long post, since I turned it into one upon realizing it was simply too long of an idea to be a Twitter or Facebook post.

I am agitated right now because, among people who disagree and criticize the Occupy Wall Street movement (with which I plan to show solidarity tonight by joining the protesters in person), there has been this meme of criticizing them for having iPhone and iPads and other electronics or brand name goods. The oversimplifying argument is that, if they seem to be protesting rich people, they should not but things made by rich people. I have my responses to that argument and they are such:

1) Utilizing whatever communication technology is available is the smart thing to do for any protest movement.  It allows the movement to stay on their toes and know where to meet. If there is some kind of mass-accessible commercial medium of communication, it is their prerogative–or maybe their responsibility–to use it. Otherwise, they would indeed be as disorganized and directionless as their critics wish they were.

2) The possession of mobile devices is no longer as strict a marker of class as it used to be. Such devices flood the market, and as such, prices have gone down.  I actually just saw someone post an article about how, worldwide, more people have mobile phones than have toilets. So it’s not that ironic an image to see someone expressing economic discontent through a keyboard or touch screen. Otherwise, how are they going to bitch about not having the toilet?

3) OWS is NOT protesting against the production or consumption of consumer goods. It is protesting wealth inequality and the fact that politicians are bought out by lobbyists and no longer represent their constituents’ best interests. To assume this is some broad anti-capitalist and anti-money protest run by a few trust-fund hippies is nothing more than an overgeneralizing, dismissive harumph that would more befit a 70-year-old retiree than the fellow 20-somethings I hear using this argument. It’s an ad-hominem argument, pure and simple.

4) Even IF some of the protesters are only able to access these devices because of their financial comfort, shouldn’t it be commended that the people who AREN’T in a shitty position realize that, while the system may work for them, it doesn’t work for others, and throw their efforts in to change the system so that everyone gets more of a fair shake? Why should ONLY the people who are in the bad position realize that it’s a bad position to be in?

To expect everyone who is materially comfortable to just keep quiet and be satisfied is like the parent who goes “Why are you crying? Yeah, I know you only see me on Saturdays and I’m usually drunk, but HEY I GOT YOU AN XBOX! SHUT UP AND PLAY YOUR XBOX!”

Actually, people who are well off joining those who aren’t in protest would make it seem like it’s an exercise of–uh–what’s that weird thing called? You know, the thing you’re supposed to lose when you get everything you want?

Oh, yeah. Compassion.

Okay, I’m done. I was thinking about writing something funny instead, but I figured, “why start now?”

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One Response to “The Occupy Movement and Phones”

  1. Kristine Sara Ekman 11/15/2011 at 3:40 pm #

    I obviously like this. And, you’re definitely on to something about those of us lucky and privileged who are not suffering as much…Just because we aren’t, doesn’t mean we can’t recognize political inequality or economic injustice. I almost wonder, if because we’re so blessed we should be demand more of ourselves re: awareness of these issues. 🙂

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