De online revolutie

Vrijdagochtend 8 oktober. Ruim 2.000 kunstenaars, kunststudenten en docenten verzamelen zich op het Malieveld in Den Haag om te protesteren tegen de bezuinigingen van het kabinet op kunst en cultuur. Sommigen zijn in groepen gekomen, anderen alleen. Velen zien elkaar voor de eerste keer en zullen elkaar daarna nooit meer zien. Allen komen ze echter om te protesteren tegen de bezuinigingen. Tot nu toe lijkt het op menig ander protest, maar in tegenstelling tot voorgaande protesten is er een wezenlijk verschil: dit protest is georganiseerd via Facebook.

Zo’n anderhalve week eerder schreef Malcolm Gladwell een artikel in de New Yorker genaamd “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted.”. Hierin had hij het over de sit-ins begin jaren zestig en de revolutie die zij ontketenden. Deze revoluties worden gekenmerkt door de organisatie en discipline die zij hebben, iets wat sociale media missen, aldus Gladwell. Sociale media zoals Facebook en Twitter kunnen gebruikt worden om een boodschap door te geven en zo mensen over de hele wereld te bereiken, maar meer ook niet. Zij zijn volgens Gladwell niet in staat om eenzelfde soort beweging te creëren als de sit-ins deden in de jaren zestig. In zijn artikel zegt hij ook: “Social networks are effective at increasing participation – by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires.” Je bereikt meer mensen doordat het meedoen met een actie makkelijker is. Je hoeft niet meer actief ergens te gaan staan of zitten en daarbij het risico te lopen om omgepakt te worden of tegenstanders van de actie tegen te komen. Voor de acties op sociale mediaplatforms zit je veilig thuis en drukt op een knop dat je er achter staat, meer niet. Voor de acties via sociale media meld je je aan en kom je opdagen op de afgesproken datum samen met vele anderen. De drempel om te participeren is verlaagd.

In de anderhalve week tussen Gladwell zijn artikel en het protest op het Malieveld is er, naast de berichtgeving in De Pers, meerdere keren kritiek geuit op Gladwell waaruit drie belangrijke punten naar voren kwamen. Ten eerste zou hij niet kijken naar de problemen die een hiërarchie kan hebben, namelijk dat wanneer de leider weg wordt gehaald, dit de hiërarchie een ontzettende klap kan geven terwijl de genetwerkte sociale media dan zouden blijven staan. Ten tweede zou hij de zwakke banden, via sociale media, en de sterke banden, persoonlijke relaties, altijd tegenover elkaar zetten terwijl ze elkaar soms juist goed aanvullen en ondersteunen. Als derde zegt Gladwell dat acties vandaag de dag in kleinere vormen plaatsvinden en dat die kleinere vormen vaak weinig uithalen, terwijl veel kleine vormen samen toch een grote invloed kunnen uitoefenen.

En nu is er dus het protest op het Malieveld. Een protest dat, ondanks dat het via Facebook was georganiseerd, tegen alle verwachtingen in veel mensen bijeenbracht in Den Haag. Volgens Gladwell vindt Clay Shirky dat actievoeren via sociale media een upgrade is en Shirky zal dus blij zijn mocht hij van deze actie horen.1 Maar hoezeer Gladwell niet ziet hoe sociale media kunnen bijdragen aan de betekenisvolle acties en hoe graag Shirky ook wil dat sociale media een impact kunnen hebben, het meten hiervan gaat moeizaam. Hoe weet je wie er door Facebook is komen opdagen en wie er door vrienden is overgehaald om mee te gaan? Wanneer heeft een Facebook actie zin en hoeveel invloed heeft het op datgene waar de actie tegen is? Welke vorm het protest ook aanneemt, in dit digitale tijdperk met zijn participatie cultuur kun je eigenlijk niet meer om sociale media heen. Ze worden op verschillende manieren gebruikt, maar hoe het gebruikt wordt ligt bij de gebruiker zelf, daar zullen de analyses van Gladwell en Shirky weinig aan veranderen.

Afbeelding: MLK tweets

  1. Voor het voorbeeld dat Gladwell gebruikt van Clay Shirky zie het artikel van Gladwell []
Dit artikel is geschreven door op Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 en is terug te vinden onder De Pers, Metareports, WG03. Het artikel is getagged met, , , , , , , , , , , .
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