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View Diary: The Squandered Potential of Occupy (240 comments)

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  •  Oh, and those wavy fingers, as you called them, (10+ / 0-)

    were adapted from the deaf  community. So, you could see them as a symbol of unity, not difference, if you choose.

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:11:39 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  or not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      you could see them as a symbol of unity, not difference, if you choose.

      Yes, but your choice would be a wrong one.

      There are times and places for creating your own vocabulary and your own insider language. Public political movements aren't it.

      •  Oh, come on. (8+ / 0-)

        Are you just squeamish about wiggling your fingers? Does it make you feel sillier than raising your hand? Where are all the people in the GA going to get the colored cards that the diarist suggests would be a more "normal" way to communicate in a large crowd?

        Anyone can learn what that means in about 2 seconds. People's resentment of it comes from something else entirely.

        •  How to act like a normal person (2+ / 0-)

          Anyone can learn what that means in about 2 seconds.

          I can learn to refer a "dog" as a "sneert" in about two seconds, but I'm not going to do that, because it would be silly.

          People's resentment of it comes from something else entirely.

          If you want to attract normal people to your movement, learn to act like a normal person, holding to public social norms, rather than creating your own.

          On the other hand, if you want to create a tight-knit insider culture that doesn't welcome outsiders without a high barrier of entry, do what you're doing-- create your own customs, vocabulary, and norms that no one is comfortable with unless they are immersed in the culture.

          And if you want to degrade a captive audience, then by all means, force them to participate in a Wal-Mart Cheer or something.

          •  Then what is your solution for the problem (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gulfgal98, Nowhere Man, barleystraw

            of needing to communicate to a diverse group of people through means that would not be exclusive and that require nothing in terms of equipment or infrastructure? As well as communicating with a large group of people who feel about the traditional means of communication just the way YOU feel about non-traditional means of communication?

            Real question. Do you have an answer?

            •  In that case... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Smoh, Kickemout, high uintas

              As well as communicating with a large group of people who feel about the traditional means of communication just the way YOU feel about non-traditional means of communication?

              In that case, it's probably helpful to create a small subgroup with its own insider gestures and vocabulary, basically as a safety valve where they can feel validated while not interfering with the greater, overall goals and allowing everyone else to communicate easily and effectively with themselves and the outside world.

              If you want Occupy to be a place where disaffected people on the fringes of society can find their own "place", then you will have a movement that is only for disaffected people on the fringe. Which if that's what you want, is great! But don't pretend that it is going to get the attention or the help of the outside world.

              "I don't like raising my hand because it gives me flashbacks from the oppressive environment of the classroom, and I would rather than we express assent by performing an interpretive dance" might make some people feel better, but it's not effective communication: it is forming your own island-of-misfit-toys secret society.

              What do you think Barack Obama did as a community organizer? Did he teach people to use funny hand gestures and have them adopt a unique vocabulary? Or did he learn to work with everyday people and teach them how to influence politicians and others?

              •  I appreciate the response. (3+ / 0-)

                I can't comment on how the people in Occupy who made these decisions would reply, but I personally would imagine that they adapted hand signs that would be the most inclusive and carry the least baggage as possible.

                I get the "negatives" of it. However, perhaps Occupy wished to create their own set of signs (like many groups do! Secret societies, gangs, the Deaf, silent religious orders, athletes, and no, I am not equating those groups with each other). It helps people to feel like they belong to their own special group.

                If people feel excluded, that is really more their problem than the group's problem.

                Your dismissal of them as "island of misfit toys" says more about you than it does about Occupy. Is that how you feel about any group that has "exclusive out of the norm" symbols or language or slang or music?

                •  Well, from my own perspective... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Deward Hastings

                  ... as someone who had a problem picking up on social norms, it helped to figure out why people did what they did and use those norms to facilitate effective communication with others in the outside world. Because that was my goal. If my goal is merely to make me feel better about myself, then I'd do something else, but it wouldn't serve my greater goals.

                  If you want to form an insular club, then you have one set of options. If you want to form a means of broad engagement with the public, then you do something else. Ritual humiliation by having everyone act out hand gestures that are not part of everyday adult communications is, like the Wal-Mart cheer, not effective for broad engagement.

                •  Asdf (0+ / 0-)

                  "If people feel excluded, that is really more their problem than the group's problem."

                  If the group is trying to accomplish something in the greater society, that is absolutely not true.

                  Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

                  by Smoh on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:23:34 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Who gets to define "normal"? (4+ / 0-)

            And why?  Why cede that privilege to those who have declared so much which is WRONG, to be "normal"?

            Part of any movement for change has to be the commitment to look at our current frame of reference and question whether it is 1) necessary, 2) appropriate, or 3) desirable.

            "Normal" isn't a given, isn't a law of the universe.  It's a social construct, and social constructs can be CHANGED.

            •  My understanding is that 'wavy fingers' is (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nowhere Man, Catte Nappe, cynndara

              adapted from the "consensus-building" protocols of group moderation - an alternative to the very legalistic and corporatist protocols of "Robert's Rules" which do indeed tend to reify hierarchy. SDS groups on college campuses have used silent "hand gestures" for a long time, since it is deemed less aggressive and disruptive to group dynamics than cheering and clapping. Such procedural options are actually quite fascinating:


              I am bewildered to find it (wavy fingers) so contentious. The idea that there is a "normal" way of organizing group procedure is laughable. As with everything, there are complex histories, and we tend to gravitate to what we know. It is troubling to me that such an intelligent community as Kos readers is so set on dismissing what we don't know. I've (previous to Occupy) sat among SDS college groups and was at first mystified and inwardly irritated that "they" were using this crazy system to organize the group. "Why weren't they using Robert's Rules?" I thought. After a while, it becomes clear that it is just another operating system. Windows or Mac? Good or bad? Small differences, big differences? (How dare these stupid people use icons, windows and pointers in their so-called GUI that show their lack of seriousness compared to our real work with command-line entry!)

              It is also a sideshow issue. The diary makes some good points about the reluctance to engage local and national institutional politics. Mocking procedural dynamics is not one of them.

              I'm hoping that a few of you wiggle your fingers in consent.

              •  People want what they know (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                noise of rain

                It is not about people at Kos gravitating to what they know. It is about people in general gravitating to what they know, and if you want to create your own language and own hand gestures outside of how public and social organizations usually interact, you will limit yourself to creating what is just a tight-knit fringe organization.

                What also some people miss is how much these "invented norms/language" owe to corporate America where unusual norms and jargon are created specifically to keep others out as well as to serve as a bit of "ritual humiliation" of the members (see the Wal-Mart cheer linked above).

                I might also add that the reason these other gestures were considered less "contentious" is not because this is an overall problem, but rather because these fringe consensus-oriented campus groups tend to attract people with various problems of alienation and social anxiety and the like looking for a place to "fit in." But coincidentally, these organizations only attract personality type and, ultimately, the consensus-oriented passivity becomes an end in and of itself, turning the organization into a breeding ground of Geek Social Fallacies.

                Consensus-oriented, grassroots organizations in general (eg, town-meeting-run towns in New England) don't resort to these techniques, which have not caught on.

                We have models for organization, agreement, and decision making that we understand and can get to operate. OWS, unfortunately, ended up just serving as an outlet for the socio-political experiments in group organization that AdBusters wanted to explore. That's nice and everything, but save it for the sociology Ph.D. theses.

                •  I disagree. My larger point was that these (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Nowhere Man

                  are socially constructed froms, from which norms arise. Robert's Rules is institutionalized, but Consensus protocols are also well within reasonable normative behavior. Quaker meetings operate on another consensus based protocol. Your response gives me even more bewilderment about your focus on procedural choices which in themselves are not out of any bounds of reasonable behavior, and are in fact, well within a history of tried and true procedural options.

                  The rest of your argument seems to revolve around Freaks and Geeks. Alienation, in our society, is normative. The rest - from the frat house to the US Congress - is the abuse of hidden privilege.

          •  which is more abnormal & offensive (0+ / 0-)

            A) ordinary people expressing support in real time silently by wiggling fingers

            B) robo calling to try and estimate who's fingers are wiggling

      •  So do you think we have nothing to learn (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        from the Deaf community? Nothing to gain from trying to include them in our movement?

        Maybe I'm overreacting to your comment, but it seems to me that when you brush that gesture off as "creating [our] own vocabulary and [o]ur own insider language", you're dismissing the Deaf community in general. My point, in fact, was that we didn't build that. It was already built for us. And by dismissing it as an "insider language", you seem to be dismissing all of those who need that language and flourish because of it.

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:58:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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