Friday, January 2, 2015

Change in tactics; the Anarchist evolving strategies in the era of social media

If you recall the protests in Ferguson, MO and New York City you'll remember the people with cameras running through the crowds. The cameras were either handheld filming the action or sometimes the camera was mounted on the body somewhere, like the forehead with a strap. Other times the cameras were hidden in bags or under a scarf. These videos, within minutes, were broadcast to the entire world using social media sites. Those filming with cameras and posting the videos are called "Streamers".

Initially, the purpose of the 'Streamers' was to get police abuses on video to further incite even more violence. Initially some of these videos did just that. But then an unexpected thing happened. Many of these videos became evidence for the police to charge protesters with crimes. Oooops. 

In the excitement of the moment, some 'Streamers' were yelling out peoples names, identifying the protest leaders, giving away tactical information, and capturing images of people engaged in illegal activity. 

Streamers used to be really cool, and now suddenly they're not cool at all. You can read all about this in the Anarchist News. From the article titled, Live Streamers Make Great Informants:
A common issue with Streamers is their display of entitlement, often citing the value of bringing the movement to the people. But Streamers have a hard time admitting that the police find their work more valuable then [sic] demonstrators.

In a world of voyeurism and exhibitionists, Streamers often get carried away, interpreting their role as being a narrator for the movement. They often film people without their consent, placing more value in presenting to their viewership, then protecting the group that is already taking risks by just getting out into the street to protest.
Believe it or not, the Anarchists want the Streamers to follow a long list of rules called, " 'Good' Livestream Tactics" and they have a list of "Very Poor Streamer Etiquette". Here are some examples of poor Streamer etiquette:
-Calling People out by Name on Streams.
-Filming Peoples’ Identities on Streams
-Narrating your Interpretation of what Kind of Action is Taking Place
-Streamers often divulge personal opinions rather than facts when narrating about actions. Are you prepared to be a witness for law enforcement in the future?
-Filming Direct Actions
When you read the article about 'Streamers' note the long lists. Aren't people attracted to the Anarchist philosophy to get away from the oppression of the "list makers"? And then there is "etiquette". Since when do the Anarchists want some vague, broad societal construct to determine their behavior? Maybe the Anarchist lifestyle isn't what it's cracked up to be. There's a lot of rule makin' going on here if you know what I mean. Lastly, were these rules codified using the horizontal decision-making method?

Also, for a group that considers itself "non-conformist" it seems more than odd that there is such inner-rigidity in thought, action and dress amongst those that "identify" with the group.