Ever since Time Magazine declared "ME" Person of the Year, I've wondered what I could possibly have done to win so exalted a title. In the nearly eighty year history of Time Magazine's Person of the Year, the people or things selected have been chosen based on their great impact on the world. The choices have been far ranging. From Gandhi in 1930, to Hitler in 1938, to Endangered Earth in 1988.
But this year the selection is "ME" and the millions like "ME" who are active participants in Web 2.0. The bloggers, diarists, posters, viewers, digitizers, observers, surveyors, purveyors, etc., who share and snare information daily. Humorists, satirists, polemicists and poets. Brilliant enlightened points of view. Anger and angst. Harmony and hate. Everything's there in the blogosphere.
As an educator, I've observed the shedding of early fears that computer-speak would destroy literacy. That people the world over, regardless of language, would disregard grammar, ignore spelling, and ascribe to a dialectical computer-eze as controversial as Ebonics. But to my delight, at least on the adult level, literary proficiency has increased. And why shouldn't it? The phone is no longer the sole instrument of communication. Now children, teens and adults are writing. No paper. No envelopes. No stamps. No post office. Just a keyboard, a computer or PDA, Internet access and you're on your way!
For Time Magazine, it was the newly minted web-based community that inspired "US" as Persons of the Year. According to Time, "It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before... This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them."
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This is true. Internet unity has formed, informed, reformed, constructed and deconstructed millions of details, stories, issues, ideas, people and places. You name it. Virtually every subject has been addressed on the world-wide-web. It empowered and financed Howard Dean in 2004 and delivered the Connecticut Primary to Ned Lamont in 2006. Pretty heavy activism.
Or is it?
The fact is, Web 2.0 is just a part of activism. A powerful part. But not powerful enough. There's plenty of "fontificating." Raging battles over issues and ideology. But there's way too much defeatism. Constant statements like: 'Impeachment won't happen.' 'Our democracy is gone.' 'There's nothing we can do.' 'The neocons are in control.' 'The Democrats are losers.' 'Pelosi will never listen.' 'We can't end the war.'
The negativity goes on and on. How can anyone live with so little hope? The constant defeatism of the blogosphere drove me so crazy one afternoon that I ran to my computer and purchased the Pointer Sisters' classic song, "Yes, We Can Can," immediately put it in repeat mode and played it for the rest of the day. It saved me!!
"I know we can make it.
I know darn well we can work it out.
Oh yes we can, I know we can can
yes we can can, why can't we?
If we wanna, yes we can can."
Thank you dear Pointer Sisters for giving "US" the best anti-defeatist anthem ever! We need it because in the blogosphere the defeatism just keeps on coming. Not from everyone and not all the time. But often enough. Note this defeatist comment to a fabulous article written by Robert Weitzel.
"Shrub will never be impeached. The neocons will not allow it. Have you forgotten we no longer live in a democratic republic? I would personally LOVE nothing better, but chimpy's not going anywhere..."
How is it possible for this person to say, "I would personally LOVE nothing better... " and then DO NOTHING BETTER?
How about this recent comment on a wonderful article written by Andrew Bard Schmookler?
"People who think we're going to win this in the streets should remember the TV images from China in 1989. With Bushites backed into a corner, you're just asking for another Tianemen Square. Mass protests = excellent excuse for martial law."
Bravo, Mr. Bush. Your fear tactics are working! So now public protests are out. The streets are out. Bloggers only want to be read!
Well, if Ron Kovic can show up in his wheelchair. And Max Cleland can show up in his. If Tammy Duckworth can conduct an entire Congressional campaign on prosthetic legs, then the Web 2.0 crowd can show up, too. There's too much at stake for half-measures.
A couple years ago I was at a large peace march in Los Angeles with Codepink. We were lagging behind the march when I turned around and saw an elderly woman with a cane walking slowly toward me. She was tiny, frail and blind. I asked if I could accompany her to where she was going. She said she was following the march. She was eighty-two years old and had taken the bus by herself to get to the march. She had participated in all the activities but had fallen behind at the end. I locked arms with her and ushered her to the post march rally. We talked politics. She told me she wouldn't have missed this event for anything. I've never forgotten her. That's activism. And patriotism. And hopefully me when I'm eighty-two.
In the days before YouTube, activists attended marches and rallies knowing no matter how many people showed up, no matter how large our numbers, the police and media would purposely underestimate the size of our crowd. Occasionally rally organizers hired a helicopter to get aerial shots of the event to show the true enormity of the crowd. Again, that was before YouTube. Now, with our own digital cameras and YouTube, we can document the crowd size, conduct interviews, and show it on YouTube so the world can see how Americans are working for peace.
Finally, one more well-intentioned comment posted on a recent article by Cindy Sheehan:
I hope you appreciate the irony:
Dear Ms. Sheehan,
I applaud your activism. So many of us are weary and tired and cannot believe the nightmare that we are living under this regime.
What ever happened to recalling elected officials? The republicans were able to recall Davis in California why can't we recall each and every Democrat that refuses to initiate impeachment proceedings? I keep listening to the "intellectuals" who say that they can't just "jump right into impeachment" without investigations because that's how our system "works"! Well, the reality of the matter is 1) there is already enough evidence to impeach and 2) we don't have time for the system to work.
It is so depressing that for me, I have made the resolution that I will seek some way of life that allows me to separate myself from this insanity because without Divine Intervention, there is no hope of the criminal, corrupt and debase cabal being removed.
If websites would open up and allow the common man to post then the movement would truly feel the frustration in the land. But the website managers are practicing the same level of "elitism" that corporate media practices albeit in a different "resource pool.
If anyone should be weary and tired, it's Cindy Sheehan. If anyone's suffered a nightmare under this regime, it's Cindy Sheehan. This poster's main concern is not having the opportunity to write about his/her concerns. Rather than jumping in "feet-first" to solve the problems, the poster is seeking some manner of separation from the "insanity."
The same poster ends with, "Unfortunately, the rest of the world will hold All Americans responsible for the actions of our government. How will the American people answer? What will be our excuse? God help us all."
The American people can answer by taking to the streets to prove to the world that "All Americans" aren't responsible for the actions of our government.
On January 27th United For Peace And Justice has organized a major rally in Washington, DC to demand an end to the war in Iraq. I'll be in Washington on January 27th. Cindy will be in Washington on January 27th. Will "YOU" the Persons of the Year be in Washington on January 27th?
It is possible to write and rally, too. Cindy does it!! So can "YOU"!
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