I recently came across a video that was first posted back in October. It’s titled “A Day in the Life of an Occupy Wall St. Participant” by Matt, in Portland Oregon. This post is so full of misinformation I wish I could be surprised about it’s many thousands of facebook likes and comments of approval. Unfortunately, accurate information is less important than sarcastic rhetoric.
In the video, Matt describes Dakota, Marin, and Simon, a group of young, mindless, consumers, as they plan for a day of protesting while purchasing and using products sold by big corporations. Matt says that they are hypocrites for being compulsive consumers while protesting the evils of “corporate greed” and asks, “If you really wanted to change the system, wouldn’t you want to boycott these evil corporations?”
Well, no. Generally, what the occupiers hoped to accomplish was financial regulations to prevent the kind of investments which create great risk to people not making those investments. The target of the protest were primarily financial institutions, hence “Occupy Wall Street”. Since most of companies that Matt lists in his video aren’t financial institutions, the Occupy movement, though diverse, wasn’t generally targeting those corporations. As it turns out, many of the protesters did put their money where their mouths where, and closed accounts at large financial banks and moved them to local banks and credit unions. But even if they were protesting Verizon, Dell, and Cisco, boycotting isn’t the only way to voice displeasure and sometimes isn’t event he best. A massive boycott of dozens of major corporations would cause an even greater financial crisis than the one we’re recovering from now. That would be hypocritical.
Thus, Matt uses the activities of his three characters (I don’t know if he completely made them up ) to describe the entire movement as a bunch of “Self righteous, morally indignant hypocrites”, even though their activities, real or not, don’t demonstrate hypocrisy (thoughtlessness and consumerism, perhaps).
Towards the end of the video, Matt starts to sound a little bit like a liberal. He chastises his three characters for not giving money to homeless people, then he talks about Chinese slave laborers and Vietnamese children who make all the products that we mindlessly purchase. He actually says, “It’s your consumerism that’s driving the social inequality that you’re out protesting”.
So true. Interesting that the occupy movement was started by an anti-consumerist organization called
Adbusters (according to Wikipedia). Perhaps Matt and the occupiers have more in common than he realizes.
Matt doesn’t seem like a really bad guy, and I won’t chastise him for not telling us if Dakota, Marin, and Simon are real people, amalgams of stories he’s heard or read about, or just three dopes he dreamed up. He wasn’t expecting his little video to go viral.
The problem isn’t Matt, so much, as all the people who took this little story seriously, despite all of its irrelevancy, and hailed it as proof that the occupiers were all just a bunch of hypocrites.