By Jason Menard
Put a bunch of kids in the middle of a field, attach them together, then tell them to run. What happens? Exactly the same thing that’s currently happening to Occupy London.
They run off in every direction, fall flat on the ground, and end up getting nowhere.
And while the community at large was initially intrigued by the spectacle and willing to help them pull together, it seems that a small contingent is willing to let the movement run itself into the ground, simply because they refuse to play by any other rules but their own.
Earlier today, there was a discussion on Twitter that I made the mistake of wading into during my lunch hour. Why? Because I couldn’t understand the combination of audacity, sense of entitlement, arrogance, and complete lack of perspective.
Essentially the debate came about from a person affiliated with Occupy London, who claimed to be entitled to speak for them, wishing to be included in the upcoming City Symposium. This was also followed by a volley at former MP and current London Food Bank director, accusing him of wanting to control the movement’s message.
But here’s where it got truly odd. This woman (@TammyLeeMarche) claims to be empowered by the organization to speak on its behalf, but has no formal endorsement – and refuses to get one because it goes against the group’s beliefs. She wants to speak at this symposium, using the Occupy London affiliation as the foundation for her presence, but insists that she only will speak as an individual, not as a representative of the group. And should one question the seemingly odd nature of this situation, our concerns are summarily dismissed by the following statement:
“That’s what you all say but that’s not our way. I know it’s obscure to u but not to us. This is how we do it 4 now.”
This was followed by some completely irrelevant line about loving each other and insincere thanks for willingness to engage (along with a sarcastic “thankfully we can agree to disagree” line). And within that simple exchange, I’ve realized why Occupy London hasn’t been able to do anything with the attention it received – and the emotional capital that it has slowly frittered away.
What concerns me most is that the person in question is allegedly a communications consulting firm. At the very least, she should have an understanding that – above all else – the message is what matters. Unfortunately, Occupy London is caught up in the wheres and whens – focusing on the physical and symbolic – instead of dealing with the whats and hows – the delivery of a clear message, with reasoned suggestions, to reach their goals around which the greater public can rally.
Of course, that would require that the organization knows what its goals are. It seems they’re still formulating those ideas. And, sadly, it seems that nothing’s sacred – not even the foundation of the movement. You see, Occupy London might not even be representing the 99 per cent it so loudly professed to support.
When I asked why people like me, part of the 99 per cent that they claim to represent, aren’t engaged in the discussion, the response was this: “No we represent ourselves in OL…99% issue is not even agreed on yet officially with OL.”
That’s news to me. And I’m pretty sure it’s news to a number of people who supported the Occupy London movement. So I’m left to believe that Occupy London is now nothing more than a self-serving group of self-designated representatives. So if they’re not working for my best interest, or that of the 99 per cent, for whom are they working?
It seems this counter-culture movement, at least amongst the core members of OL, are trying to create another culture – only this time, they’ll be at the top of the heap.
I now firmly question what Occupy London’s true intent is. If they’re truly of the belief that they have a strong message that must be shared, then why haven’t they? Why refuse the unprecedented offer of a communications tent? Why not come out with a cohesive manifesto by now? It’s been more than long enough.
And why not work with people who can help bring your desired-upon changes into effect. That’s not just politicians, but the community as a whole.
Unfortunately, Occupy London has shown itself to be completely dismissive of anyone who doesn’t agree wholeheartedly with its vague goals. It’s not enough to dismiss people by saying “you don’t get it” – you have to tailor your message to ensure that they do.
But Occupy London refuses to accept the importance of developing a message, garnering public support, and doing the very things that would actually translate the incredible opportunity and attention they’ve been given into tangible results.
Instead, they are parlaying their mistrust of anyone even remotely involved in the system (and please read this incredible insider’s perspective from one of the group’s initially most-ardent supporters: into the foundation of failure. They expect the world to conform to their ideals, but neglect to answer the most basic of questions: what’s in it for me?
So be content with preaching to the converted. Be content with growing old and bitter, knowing in your heart of hearts that the 50 of you who hijacked this movement were right and EVERYONE ELSE was wrong. And don’t, for one minute, think about the tremendous opportunity that you’ve wasted.
You held the attention of the city’s eyes, ears, and hearts. You had people willing to play ball with you, but because you couldn’t control the game 100 per cent, you lost those potential supporters’ interest. And when nothing comes out of this movement, be content doing what you’ve always done – blame the establishment for not getting it.
After all, like an immature teenager, it’s much easier to believe that everyone else is wrong than to look in the mirror and say, “You know what? Maybe it’s me that needs to grow up.” Teenagers eventually figure it out as they grow older.
I can only hope Occupy London grows up before it’s too late.