Thursday, February 3, 2011

Everybody Dance Now! Flash Mobs for Social change.

The US Campaign to End the Occupation has issued a handy checklist for activists planning a flash mob, presumably to avoid such embarrassments as this.

Do with it as you please, remembering that this is the year of the Flash Mob! (Lucky attendees at national AIPAC might even get to experience the joys of a Code Pink flash mob in person)

Anna Baltzer, from the US Campaign to End the Occupation recently sent out a missive touting flash mobs as a substitute for traditional protests, claiming

"Through social networks, we now have the ability to generate and distribute influential media on our own. Flash mobs enable the use of pop culture and social networks to promote a message or campaign in a way that is easily accessible, especially to the young generation. This is a great complement to traditional forms of protest, and anyone can do it."

The Blog Divest this has a different take, noting the confusion and disgust many feel when experiencing a Code Pink and friends production

"The BDS flashers, in contrast, could not care less about the crowd in whose face they strut their stuff, for the simple reason that unsuspecting shoppers at Best Buy are not the audience for this performance, but are merely props. The audience for this dance troupe are like-minded BDSers with whom they can share a demonstration of “edgy direct action” which amounts to little more than self-indulgent irrelevancy.

This may explain why, in a YouTube world where the online audience for joyous flash mobs shoots into the millions, the “Hang Up on Motorola Dancers” have trouble breaking five figures, a reasonable estimate of the number of people who share their cause, minus the few of us who checked out their performance either for research purposes or simply to stare in dumbfounded shock at the lengths the Israel-dislikers will go to get anyone to pay attention to them. "

The US Campaigns checklist highlights the most important part of the flash mob: shameless self promotion, urging the flashers to "Distribute like mad!"
Their blueprint for publicity follows (Team Israel take note, and remember the words of ben Zoma "Who is wise? He who learns from everyone" )

Prepare your distribution plan and lists beforehand.

Send press releases to media (example press releases). Have it ready beforehand. If you send it out immediately following the event, you can tell them you have raw footage they could run so they don’t have to wait for the whole edited piece.

Post widely on Facebook and ask others to do the same; it can spread like wildfire.

Twitter (Don’t forget to use hashtag #bds)

“Like” and comment on the video on YouTube and Facebook, which increases traffic. That includes on friends’ Facebook pages.

Send it local, national, and international allies/leaders on this and other issues, especially people connected with larger networks and communities.

Send it out on sympathetic email lists, asking people to forward

Write related articles for online publications

For all the above, you can organize a gathering right after the video is released during which people sit together with their laptops and post the links on Twitter, Facebook, forums, listservs, websites, etc. Make a fun evening of it. The Bathrobes Brigades in the Netherlands organizes regular internet activism evenings.

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