Last semester, in my Media Studies: Ideas course, we also read Guy Debord’s “The Society of the Spectacle.” Of all the readings, it was this reading that resonated with me most – it was the determination point at which I finally accepted that I actively engaged in and obliviously and willing partook in a consumerist society. But, what was most interesting to me about this piece is the concept that nothing is real and that everything that is presented to us as real is in fact just a mere representation of what we are told is real.
This idea made me think of the media and the active role it constantly plays in our lives – reinforcing this idea that what is real is what we are told is real. It bothers me to think that various media, such as the news, can try and sway a person to believe or think a certain way. I remember when Occupy Wall Street first started in Zucotti Park – everyone was ecstatic, it felt like there was a chance we could change the system. Then, the news media started reporting that OWS was going to cost tax payer’s millions of dollars in taxes – and a lot of people changed their opinions and began turning against the movement. No one wants to pay more in taxes!
But, what struck me as the most odd, is that every time I watched coverage of the OWS movement, there were so many people trying to get the best shot or just catch this historic event on camera. Rather than experiencing what was going on around them, everyone seemed to have some form of technology up as a wall. I decided to go to OWS Broadway and film people filming the event. This was merely an observational project – rather than judgmental, and was inspired by “The Society of the Spectacle.” (I have attached the video at the end of this blog post for those that care to watch).
While at the Activist Demo Day, I met Taeyoon Choi, the creator of the Occu-bot. Occu-bot is a D.I.Y. robot for occupation and picket holding. We talked for a little bit and I watched his video. He had also recorded people filming the Occupy Wall Street events in Fall 2011 and included the clips in his video. His main reason for this was to stress the importance of this historical event and the various ways in which it was being captured. (I highly recommend watching his video if you didn’t get a chance to see it at the event – I love the people’s reactions to his robots).
What I took from his video and from the other participants at the Activist Demo Day was this idea that as citizens we can change the way we actively engage in media – that there is a way to take back control of information and come together to collectively inform one another. There were so many inspirational projects such as the FreeNetworkFoundation – providing free Internet, free information to the public– ideas I had never thought about before. I can only imagine the ways the OWS movement will continue to impact the world and how we think.