Throughout the Occupy Wall St protests the use of the “People’s microphone” has been a powerful tactic to circumvent arbitrary prohibitions by the police to limit free speech and impede communication during protest activities. People wishing to address crowds of protestors use this method of speaking in short sentence fragments that are then repeated back by nearby listeners in order to broadcast the meesage to all ears in the vicinity. No artificial amplification is needed when this method is utilized. People are forced to exercise patience as the method effectively doubles the length of any message broadcast. See this video for an example of this method in action:
Maryann Lesert wrote an excellent piece in the Rapidian about this phenomenon, and how it is being used in the Occupy Wall St solidarity movement, and more specifically how it is utilized in the Occupy Grand Rapids campaign. The article got me thinking a little deeper about the “people’s microphone“, and about how the concept of “mic check” reverberates in my own life. Below is a modfed version of my response posted on Maryann’s article on the Rapidian:
I have been thinking about this “people’s microphone” and how it forces you to actively listen to whats being said. It is very frustrating at times when someone is getting off track (thankfully the group process eventually steers them back to focus). It is also hard to sit and listen/repeat something you disagree with… but it gives you TIME to phrase your response better… more intelligently
I also have noticed how it forms the way you can present your ideas… the need for effeciency demands that you boil ideas down to their concentrated formulation if you want to keep your audience motivated towards your proposal you have to be fast and persuasive and articulate.
I have also noticed (and hear that I’m not the only one!) that my own inner dialogue starts to take on that same pace as I try to articulate my thoughts for presentation to others later. I had to laugh when I realized that I use the “people’s mic” in my converations with myself!
My last thought is on the term “mic check!” which is used to alert the group that we’re losing focus and everyone needs to sharpen up and keep things on track with the verbal communication system. I have started to see “mic check!” as a type of mantra that I’ve been adopting… a verbal remnder to maintain a more vigilant state of mind for myself… a reminder to keep my chin up and actively meet my obligations in life… a self-kicking in the pants metaphorically speaking.
View this video for a good example of how “mic check” is utilized in an effective manner during a potentially tense situation. In this video, the general assembly had predetermined that there was no point in refusing GRPD’s impending request to vacate the park at this point in our evolution. We knew they were coming, and were engaged in the discussion of finalizing our post-evacuation plans when they arrived. So even though this was our first potentially difficult encounter with them, the chances of things going wrong were pretty minimal if we simply stuck to pre-determned protocol.
Notice how “mic check!” derailed the police officers momentarily? That’s exactly what it should for all of that hear it in trying times, or when we get our own heads up our own butts.
- Occupy Grand Rapids meets the Grand Rapids Police Dept 10-10-11 (analogmutant.wordpress.com)
- ‘The revolution begins in your wallet’ (analogmutant.wordpress.com)
- On the Eve of Protest; Open Letter to the City of Grand Rapids (analogmutant.wordpress.com)
- 99% vs. 1% — The Latest on Occupy Wall St. Movement: 853 Cities, Occupy Philly Inspires, Media Coverage Improves (alternet.org)
- #OccupyWallSt Twitter Analysis Shows Tweets Peaking On Weekends (techcrunch.com)