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2011: Cyberspace Occupancy
Occupy Something that Matters
I got heckled by the 99%. I’d just left my Upper East Side apartment—a broom closet-sized studio—and was making my way toward Central Park for my late afternoon jog. As I approached Park Avenue, a human centipede of protest stopped me. The angry parade tore through the quiet residential streets, rattling the homes of my millionaire neighbors.
After a moment of confused observance, I made a dash for it, trying to squeeze through their ranks and continue on my way. With consideration, I dodged a pair of marchers and thought I was home free until I heard a shrill taunt, “Trust fund brat!”
I should have just kept running. But curious disbelief got the best of me, and I glanced over my shoulder. “Yeah we’re talking to you,” a red-face woman, brandishing a cardboard sign bellowed. “Hope you’re enjoying your inheritance!”
Was she for real?
Another voice joined in—this time male—with some snide remark about the underserved 1%. I wanted to correct him. I wanted to explain that I was certainly part of the 99%, and understood their plight. I wanted to say that I’d be marching with them, until I realized that was certainlynotwhat I wanted. I’d never be marching with them.
I may be the 99%, but one of them I amnot.
It’s not that I celebrate corporate greed, or applaud Wall Street like it’s some Field of Dreams. I’ve seen the wealth distribution charts, and had the same middle class gag reflex as the rest of the 99%.
I get it. We’re getting fucked hard, fast, and without even a semblance of romance. And I understand the protest. Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Oakland. Occupy America.
What I don’t understand is why no one’s occupying the Internet.
Had my loudmouthed critics silenced their hissing for a reflective second, I would have told them that I am protesting. I’ve been protesting for the last year, long before Zuccotti Park became a Hooverville.
I began protesting when I quit the soul-sucking 9-to-5 life and became an entrepreneur. Wow. Entrepreneur. Doesn’t that word just sparkle with prestige and impossibility? That’s what I used to think, too. That is, until I realized the potential of this crazy little thing called the Internet.
We live in an age unrivaled by any other in history. For the first time ever, the amateur can compete with the professional, the little guy can go toe-to-toe with the corporate. It’s the era of David, not Goliath. And the Internet made it possible.
Never has learning a skill or trade been easier. Never has finding an audience been simpler. Never has living your dream been this possible, tangible, accessible!
Yet, somehow an urban camping adventure is a better way to change the world? Really?
If only these protesters would open their eyes—or, more appropriately, open their laptops—they would find the real path to protest. It isn’t through shaming the 1% into sharing their wealth; it’s by out-competing them for that wealth. And doing it where the playing field is leveled. It’s about kicking their ass across the Internet.
Not since the paint was drying on Mona Lisa has there been such a calling for the Renaissance Man. Wait, my apologizes—Renaissance Person. This time, no one’s excluded. Race. Gender. Class. The Internet doesn’t discriminate. It just creates opportunity.
If you need proof, look at YouTube. Look at Amazon. Look at Clickbank. Who’s making movies? Publishing books? Recording music? It’s the 99%. The traditional gatekeepers of talent and fame no longer exist. The only “in” you need is a $30/month Internet Service Provider.
So to my detractors, you stand corrected. I enjoy the luxury of taking 2p.m. runs through the park not because I was endowed with a trust fund, but because I was endowed with an opportunity. I was born in 1983 and am blessed to live in the glorious Information Age.
Like the Wild West in 1849, there are fortunes to be made. And for every man who makes a fortune, another man loses one. If you’re sick of the 1%, stop whining and start typing. Because it won’t stay like this forever. The West was eventually settled, and so will the Internet.Every moment spent protesting in the streets is a moment that could have been spent protesting on cyberspace.