Despite the slow start to media-coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement that is currently taking place in NY, most people by now are aware of the movement, as it has spread to many other states and even countries.
As someone who works in New York on a daily basis, the movement is certainly a point of interest and an issue worthy of discussion in its own right.
Despite what your viewpoint may be on the movement’s cause, the particular methods they have for communicating are innovative for their particular environment. Since they are not allowed to use any microphones, amplifiers, or bullhorns without city permission, they must rely on other methods of communicating to the mass so that there is some assembly of order. Mostly, they rely on the ‘human microphone’ system, where one person speaks, and the crowd repeats what he or she says, so that everyone can hear. But this is only useful for one person communicating to the crowd. For the crowd to communicate, this situation required some innovation, and for inspiration they drew from the deaf community.
As with any gathering such as this, you can expect a lot of speeches, announcements, and just general political commentary, and a crowd of thousands can take a long time to stop applauding. In order to save time, crowd-goers have adopted the sign language gesture for applause: wiggling their fingers in the air. Since this creates no noise, the speaker can go on talking without taking 2 hours to say what would normally take 15 minutes under normal circumstances. Likewise, if someone doesn’t like something, wiggling their fingers pointing down signifies their displeasure.
Most people in the campaign have made their home on Wall Street, forming their own little community of occupiers. Much like any society, they have developed their own form of democracy, where measures are put to a vote before they decide to do anything.
Most famously, civil rights icon John Lewis was not allowed to speak at the protest in Atlanta because the majority of the crowd voted against it. How did they vote? Hand signals such as forming an ‘X’ with their arms mean they disagree with a point of order and block it, which in itself, is presented by forming a triangle with their hands.
I can’t help but draw comparisons between their grass-roots method of democracy and that of when earliest civilizations first started to organize and figure out a way to communicate democratically and live peacefully. It seems we are at a tipping point socially, economically, and politically all over the world.
There is only so much pressure a geyser can take before it reaches its maximum level and releases the pressure with a huge, forceful, chaotic explosion. Afterwards, it starts the process anew, docile and calm. That is the cycle of life for everything in nature, and people are no different. Perhaps we are at that tipping point now, and the cycle must renew itself. Either way, there is and always will be, one process that is in itself the goal: Communication.