Some years ago a college student told me that today’s students are much less powerful than the students of the 1960’s and ’70’s. They just don’t have the clout that young people did 30, 40 years ago.
I was stunned. Today’s students are the most powerful generation, in the history of the world.
In a previous post I talked about working with WikiPedia. When our organization first contacted them, they were the #19 website in the world. As I noted, Wikipedia was 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, Microsoft, and AOL.
Today they are the #7 website in the world. This is a demonstration of the strength of collaboration and openness. This is an example of the powerful tools available to young people today.
Look at Youtube, WordPress, eBay, facebook, Twitter, Linux & the 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, Kublai Khan, the Bourbon Kings, the Czars of Russia: none of them had a small fraction of the power that students have today, at their fingertips. Nor did the protestors two generations back.
So what could students accomplish if they decided to change our country and our world? What social, political, economic, and educational revolutions & evolutions could they produce?
It is said that you can’t fight City Hall. 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, so they are unbeatable.
Unless you are also media. Then you can fight the media, head-on.
And today, young people represent media vastly larger and more powerful than CNN, Fox, BBC, and Reuters put together. In fact, today’s young people have created new media that radically change the very concept of media and which 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 medium, but to the content as well. Today? The most powerful medium is telecom: Internet, phones and computers.
And increasingly, the content is controlled by the public. Web 2.0 blew up and blew apart the medium and the message. More and more, corporations only control the medium. And the message?
That is controlled by people. Overwhelmingly by young people. Students and young adults are starting to control the message, and there is nothing the press, the pundits, or the powerbrokers can do about it.
This is rapidly emerging in the Bernie Sanders candidacy. As the media shills for their preferred parties, ideologies and candidates, an old fogey – the anti-photogenic Sanders, with his felonious hair and his socialist outrages – has irrevocably changed politics everywhere.
If the traditional media weren’t so, well, traditional, they would realize that the 2016 presidential race is a sideshow. In the progress of humanity the radical candidates with their radical messages are minuscule considerations. Future historians will not talk about Trump or Cruz, they will talk about the revolution Bernie leads.
Let me be perfectly clear, I am not talking about Sanders’ policy proposals, I am talking about his election strategy. I will write more about this in the future, but Bernie does not need to win. He has already changed the nature of elections and politics.
Bernie did this by tapping into the most powerful generation. Young people are creating a truly democratic movement, one where the people have direct and immediate control of their governments.
Today’s young people are not powerless. They have more power than anyone has ever had. Ever.
They have so much power it’s scary.
Texting in the Rain courtesy of Garry Knight via Flickr.