Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Taking The Power Back

2009 was the year where social media activism came into its own, where the promise of crowd sourcing became a palpable force. We saw a number of campaigns where social media gave full voice to a connected audience who had disconnected with the mainstream, be it politics, the legal system or the music industry. Activism became easier, building a groundswell could all happen at the keyboard rather than the soapbox or megaphone. We’re living in a time of great uncertainty and change and the old models are breaking, the mainstream can no longer control or manipulate the message. Whilst we feared the era of the super injunction and Big Brother control, people are taking some of the power back and getting their voice heard. The smart commercial players will be analysing the Trafigura uprising and the Christmas No 1 battle and working out how to play these games for gain in the future, but the key is not social media per se, it’s a connection with the zeitgeist of public opinion. It’s not something new either, it’s often a backlash against the system during recession and this one has more to play for. Whilst I applaud the recent backlash against the X Factor chart monopoly, it seems strange that an anthem from my youth was chosen. Surely there’s a more relevant artist raging against the machine today? Maybe we haven’t had a resurgence of rebellion since the early nineties which after all stood on the shoulders of the 70’s punk movement. I’m hoping that we see more of this dissent in 2010, because overthrowing X Factor seems a hollow victory if we don’t utilise the megaphone that social media gives us to challenge more important things than Simon Cowell. It’s scandalous that in the same week this battle was raging that the super powers of the world could not agree a progressive movement forward on climate change. There are so many things to challenge and give voice too, I hope that the fever pitch that has built this year in armchair activism continues and people continue to say “F**k you I won’t do what you tell me!” with resounding voice.

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