Do as I say, not as I did

October 19, 2011

This afternoon I spent some time at #OccupyMelbourne protest site, housed poignantly in front of that great five-star capitalist bastion The Westin Hotel.

This make shift shanty community is one of about 1,000 similar communities around the world that have sprung up in the five weeks since Occupy Wall Street began.

Each city group is similar in its informal offering of library, housing, information, kitchen and sanitation, and although each has been sparked by an urgent sense of social reform there is no overarching cohesive theme, approach or member demographic to the occupants and their required outcomes.

Each city and protest is instead a micro example of the issues and concerns of its unique place on earth. Some protests are more violent, some more pointed in their demands. Others are more general in nature and less politically motivated.

From a futurist lens, this is a fascinating social phenomenon.

The first is that things in many ways do not change, today’s agitated and motivated protesters are taking on the capitalist world created by the previous generations anti capitalist protestors of the 1960’s.

This protest, so similar to ones seen in every generation, does have some stark differences though to those that have gone before.

Unlike previous localised mass demonstrations, sit ins and protests, this simultaneous global people powered outcry is nourished by an online umbilical chord, giving it a real-time global consciousness and connectedness.

The notion of being a local, national, global citizen is one that has grown significantly in its importance over the last two decades and these 1,000 protest cities are perfect examples of how this plays itself out today and offers insights into what is to come.

The sexual revolution of the 60’s, brought about by the seemingly insignificant pill , changed for ever the status and thinking of women. It ushered in a new era of female equality and gave final rights to females over their bodies and actions.

This single seemingly insignificant innovation irrevocably changed the fabric of family, society, our belief systems and our sense of normal.

These protests are a similar harbinger of tomorrow’s world.

They demonstrate, through their ability to easily attract a global audience; spread a message through social media and ubiquitous always on technology; to galvanise and motivate; regardless of outcome is a model of the way that we will from here on speak, hear and react to each other.

This, and more made, for an interesting discussion this afternoon, between Adelaine Ng of ABC Australia radio and myself in our regular look at the world ahead (no audio available).