Looking at the photos from the YouStink anti-government protests, I can’t help but be reminded of the current ongoing protests in the US and the hordes of commentators that stress that protestors should get a job and behave like adults. The situation is a little different, as the current US protests have not escalated to this degree, but nevertheless, the comparison helps me look at the problem with more perspective. Personally, when I study past events such as the YouStink protests, it becomes very easy to judge things from a “hind sight” point of view. The images of accumulated trash serve as a visual representation of the ineffectual government, and the images of the protests showed the violent escalation of the clash between the people and the government. I used to look at events like this and think that the protesters were clearly right in what they were doing, that they had a duty to protest a government that wasn’t working for them. But amidst the current protests in the US, I’m aware that many look at these actions as shameful and indulgent. It makes me wonder who, at the time, thought that these protests were unnecessary. Furthermore, as Amar notes, many were concerned that the individuals and groups that “came together during these uprisings shared little beyond their slogans” (267). This seems to relate to our discussion of how social media activism boils down to specific phrases, slogans, hashtags, or visceral videos or images. At the time, I questioned the effectiveness of activism based on a simple shared notion. But I think that activism has always kind of been based on some sort of rallying cry and core idea, while the solution and planning of the actual activism takes a back seat. This may be problematic, but I’m starting to consider it as more of a necessary evil. Looking at the photos of the protests, the streets are swarmed with angry people dissatisfied with an ineffectual government. They didn’t all strategize how to fix all the problems, but they all cared enough to show up based on a shared value. And collectively, they produced a movement of resistance.
Protesting: Inherently Problematic