The Psychological Impact of the Internet Revolution
A significant news story in today's headline is focused on protest taking place on Wall Street, New York, now in its 23rd day with seemingly no end in sight. The crowds are steadily growing with a cross spectrum of young and old who want their voices to be heard. The movement is now moving from State to State. The protesters’ messages are focused on a classic social theme of the rich getting richer, i.e. big Wall Street banks and other financial institutions, while the poor and now the middle class are suffering especially during these tough economic times. People’s patience is very short, compelling protesters to want immediate meaningful changes now. History would seem to dictate any meaningful governmental or societal change take place over time.
The questions becomes, what is the psychology fueling this growing protest movements across the USA? The struggle between the rich and poor, those in powerful positions and those without power is not a new theme. However, with introduction of internet revolution the playing field for entry into the private world of the elite has fallen.
Information and content is widely accessible. You can buy and sell stocks on your own computer at home like a real Wall Street pro. You can make a movie utilizing film editing software and publish your clip or movie on YouTube and instantly let your views be heard or seen. Doors that were once closed to 97% of people are now wide open. However, freedom has not come without a cost.
Once big record companies ruled their domain have been forced to adapt or become extinct as free music flooded the internet. Gone where days you had to lineup at your favorite record store to buy music. Up until fairly recently anyone having access to a computer and internet connection could download music free.
Of course this spelled disaster for record companies and music artist who depend on their music royalties – most well deserved. Fortunately, the innovation and introduction ITunes Store was the music industries’ savior. It is difficult to compete against a product which is deemed free.
Another example would be newspaper syndications and even post offices. Both industries are feeling the tsunami effects of the internet revolution on their once solid business models. No longer do you need to wait a week to get a mail to your family or friends. With a computer and internet connection, write your letter and seconds later your mail arrives. How can post offices compete against that type of delivery model? In other words, we are quite accustomed to getting what we want quickly.
The internet revolution has created a worldwide culture of people who are now accustomed to getting “What they want, when they want it and how we want it”. Neither Wall Street nor government institutions nor people in power are immune to the psychological influences of the internet.
Referring to protesters on Wall Street, the question of “when we want it” comes down to “now”. People want change “now”. Not a month from now or year from now, but now. Many people are simply sick and tired and are not sympathetic to Wall Street, its power brokers or politicians while the poor and now what is considered middle class are suffering.
People are no longer willing to sit by idly, feeling disempowered when the internet has taught us people and even an individual can have a lot of power to affect social or societal change.
The question of, “how do we want it” comes down to how the information is being presented and its packaging which is important. How content information is packaged whether in newspaper format, movies, TV or internet is important. This can also be related to what protesters on Wall Street expect from their society, their government or powerful financial institutions.
People who count themselves as Middle Class now find they are being regulated (demoted) to status of poor and even the disenfranchised, and this is absolutely unacceptable. The people’s voices will be heard.
In today’s internet society one would have expected the views of protesters to be streaming through the internet inform of massive traffic, through means of social networking or emailing. Instead we find protesters have gained a lot of momentum by means of traditional – not electronic – protesting. Protestors are gathering in force on Wall Street and in all probability the crowds will become larger.
The social movement which began on Wall Street echoing protesters’ “words, demands” will become a louder component of social media sites.
Today, we have a abundant choices on how to communicate messages and yes, even our demands as society. Again, the internet revolution has taught us this lesson, we do not have to rely on simply one means of communication. We can use Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or iPhones or other technical media devices to get our positions expressed as individuals or collectively.
The internet has also allowed us as a society the freedom to accept something, i.e. content whether in form of voice mail, email, video, etc. We also have electronic freedom to deny content packaging of information if we do not want it. The introduction of the internet has given people option of choice when before they had limited choices. One can choose to tune something in or quickly tune something out with a flip of a switch or click of button.
Given the enormous amount of content material on the internet, if people do not want to receive information it simply gets labeled as SPAM and ends up in a SPAM box totally, separate from more important content.
Today, protesters probably feel a lot of content coming out of Washington, Wall Street, financial institutions and politicians is nothing short of SPAM content. There is a reason why key phrases like, “Get rich now”, or “lose weight now” and gambling related e-mails end up in the SPAM box. People do not like being scammed or inundated with stuff they have no use for. Most people really resent being made offers which are blatantly trying to take advantage.
There is an enormous amount of content on the internet. Fortunately there is software called spam filters which can remove a lot of hassles of shifting through all the stuff we do not want and accepting only the content we want. “If we want it”
The main argument of protesters on Wall Street is they are tired of being scammed by Wall Street financial institutions who knowingly or unknowingly gambled with tax payers money to achieve greater and greater profits for themselves and a few lucky shareholders, only to find out, as any gambler knows, the house always wins. In most cases the gambler walks away empty handed.
With all the billions and billions of dollars lost, it is hard to justify to family who is struggling why a multi-millionaire or big corporation should get a financial bailout while, they, middle class and poor continue not only to suffer, but be victimized by a stock collapse on Wall street.
The house of cards has collapsed and the SPAM is out of box. The SPAMMER’, i.e. big Wall Street financial institutions lost money and the people who did not even want the spam got burned. The big difference is the SPAMMERS got their money back from the scheme they perpetrated and general public, i.e., the middle class and poor got left out in the cold holding the bag having to face and suffer all the consequence of a financial meltdown.
The protest will continue in part because the internet has given power back to the people both as a technology medium of communication and also a psychological catalyst for change. We cannot underestimate the psychological mind set the internet revolution has created. People are not willing to sit back and continue to be marginalized when they take action.
People want change now and they are no longer willing to accept the packing of content coming out of Wall Street, Washington or politicians when most people are just trying to figure out how to take care of their families, given the financial mess which a lot of people blame on Wall Street and the bankers.
The internet revolution has irrevocably affected how people interact within society; perhaps lending clues to why groups of peoples are protesting