The young people of today are the most powerful generation, ever. They have more power at their fingertips than any emperor in history.
The Protests of the 1960’s & 1970’s
Some years ago a college student told me that today’s students are much less influential than the students of the 1960’s and ’70’s. They wouldn’t be able to accomplish what young people did 30, 40 years ago: war protests, civil rights, feminism, capitalist and government exploitations.
I was stunned. Today’s students are the most powerful generation. Ever.
In the history of the world.
Open Source Tools
In a previous post I talked about working with WikiPedia. When our organization first contacted them, they were the #19 website in the world. They were working with fewer paid employees than a fast food outlet, their internal administration was in turmoil, they were struggling for funds, and yet they were competing with and surpassing massively-funded corporate websites such as Amazon, CNN, Google, and Microsoft.
Today they are the #10 website in the world. But that is still only part of the picture. Wikipedia is still competing with websites investing billions in outlay, and taking in many billions more in revenues. The Wikipedia budget, however, is only in the tens of millions, perhaps as low as $25 million. This is a demonstration of the strength of collaboration and openness, and free participation. This is an example of the powerful tools available to young people today.
Look at Youtube, WordPress, eBay, Reddit, Twitter, Linux, and the entire OpenSource movement. Using freely available software, and new technologies — Internet, eMail, texting, tweeting, ListServes, message boards, social networking, blogs, eZines, podcasts, live audio/video streaming, RSS, cell phones, cell phone cameras, cell phone video cameras — the public, overwhelmingly students and young adults, have created trillions of dollars in profit for individuals and corporations.
Alexander, Caesar, Genghis Khan, the Bourbon Kings, the Czars of Russia: none of them had a tiny fraction of the power that young people have today, at their fingertips. Nor did the protestors of the 1960’s and 1970’s, two generations back.
So what could students accomplish if they decided to change our country and our world, to benefit themselves, to benefit their descendants, to benefit everyone? What social, political, economic, and educational revolutions & evolutions could they produce?
It is said that you can’t fight City Hall. I have some experience in that arena: It is actually quite easy to fight City Hall, if you know what you’re doing.
It’s the media you can’t fight. The media control the message. The media is unbeatable.
Fighting City Hall
Unless you are also media. Then you can fight the media, head-on and toe-to-toe.
And today, young people represent a media network vastly larger, and potentially much more powerful than CNN, Fox, BBC, Reuters, Gannett, and Associated Press, put together. In fact, the new media that today’s young people understand and control, has radically changed the very concept of media itself. This new media could easily eclipse – and even obviate – traditional broadcast and print media.
Think about it. Previously, media was a bit of a misnomer, because it referred not only to the platform, but also to the content. Today? The most powerful medium is the Internet, cell phones, and personal computers.
Who Controls the Content
And increasingly, the content is controlled by the public. Web 2.0 blew up, and blew apart, both medium and message. More and more, corporations only control the platform. And the message?
That is controlled by people. Overwhelmingly it is controlled by young people.
Or it could be if they just realized it. Students and young adults have the ability to completely control the message. If they decided to, there would be nothing the press, the pundits, the pols, nor the plutocrats could do about it.
This has become readily apparent in the current and previous Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns. You don’t have to support Bernie or his agenda to recognized what he has accomplished. As the media shilled for their preferred parties, ideologies and candidates, an old fogey – the gruff, growling, bent-over and anti-photogenic Sanders, with his felonious hair and his socialist outrages – emerged from the cheap seats, challenged the status quo, and irrevocably changed politics everywhere.
If the traditional media weren’t so, well, traditional, it would realize that the world is already leaving it behind. In the progress of humanity, radical candidates with radical messages are minor considerations. Future historians will not talk about Trump. They may not even talk about Bernie.
But they will definitely talk about the revolution Bernie created. Bernie does not need to win the election to win the war. He has already changed the nature of elections and politics.
The Most Powerful Generation
And Bernie did this by tapping into the most powerful generation. Young people are the key to creating a truly democratic movement, one where the people have direct and immediate control of their government.
Today’s young people are not powerless. They have more power than anyone has ever had.
They have so much power it’s scary.
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Texting in the Rain courtesy of Garry Knight via Flickr.