OPINION

Wired masses in physical form

Five thousand people came together in Syntagma Square on a hot mid-summer Sunday evening. It was not a small crowd. It was people who had spread the word via sms and blog messages in what may well be the first bodily manifestation of specific groups in Greece who use the new technologies to communicate. Users of mobile phones, laptops and a range of state-of-the-art gadgets turned up in Syntagma as citizens. They left their digital world behind and took to the street in the flesh, their senses fully activated. Along with its breath of fresh air, the demo brought some bewilderment. People met spontaneously, by inviting one another, by urging one another. «Let’s do something, let’s make our voices heard beyond political expediency.» And they did indeed do something. The silent digital mass and the new media wished to make an impact on politics – and it did so. But the voice has not yet fully matured. Disappointment, rage even disgust were expressed mostly through offensive gestures. The whole thing was above political expediency. There was no sign of efforts to take political advantage or self-interest. But politics was omnipresent. Physical presence is also a form of politics: We are here as responsible and active citizens, not as voters or clients. The open-palm gesture of insult indicates the lack of guidance from above, while sending a message to our political administrators: You people, you are so out of touch. The sms crowd has surfaced from that vast middle class, the ranks of educated albeit potentially nouveaux pauvres. These people possess the tools but no political power. They speak the language of the times, they fail – or do not wish – to understand the language of the political elite. They were hooked on their home cinemas. Now they strive to make themselves heard openly. Let’s listen to what they have to say.