WTO Protests, Seattle, November 1999. © Dean Wong. Wong is featured in Susan Noyes Platt’s Art and Politics Now
Susan Noyes Platt is perhaps not the best person to quote on issues of online (media) activism, as her primary interest is politically engaged artforms, direct action and the perfected combination of both. However, I feel her reservations about blogging may be fairly representative of many people.
I just attended the opening of Noyes Platt’s curated show, Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis at Seattle Central Community College. The art was electrifying and, based on the first chapter, so is her book Art and Politics Now.*
Already Art and Politics Now has touched upon Alfredo Jaar, Trevor Paglen, Walid Ra’ad and the WTO protests in Seattle. Details enlivening to read and ideas that are bliss to connect with.
“Cyberspace is not a joyous collection of people who come together in the street.”
A truism if I ever heard one, but she goes on:
“That physical event, collective street action, is an aesthetic act, the embodying of the act of resistance. The body of a political march is a creative body. It is a seething, joyful, and celebratory act of collective communal resistance. Cyberspace is an individual experience limited to a demographic and economic elite that creates invaluable networks, even as it atomizes them. Blogging for example, provides collective information, but it also can simply keep people at home, well informed, but hovering over a screen, alone.”
I quote this because for all the importance, thought [1, 2, and 3] and energy I put into blogging, it ain’t worth zip if I’m not connecting and being with people who are acting in the physical world to stake their political claim.
There are good arguments against the hegemony of the biggest social networks and yet some studies have shown internet users are more socially engaged. What to think? Firstly, Facebook’s degree of evil is yet to be determined. Secondly, correlation is not causation and perhaps it’s just that active people are bouncing through both cyber and real spaces? Ultimately, responsibility for use of blogs and other social media rests upon individuals’ personal (life) balance: screentime vs. playtime.
My basic message remains … HIT THE STREETS!