TALK: Revolution as Storytime: The Uprisings of 2011 and the Art of Viral Narrative
What motivates people and mobilizes them to create change? In 2011, people in countries around the world rose up against their governments and economic systems, apparently spontaneously, and under very different conditions, with widely varying effects. Perhaps more than any particular structural or organizational cause, the phenomenon can be understood as the spread of a simple, viral story. Embedded in that story was an implicit theory of change, together with the movements’ power and their shortcomings. When we consider ongoing movements like Black Lives Matter and the rolling protests related to the Trump administration, the stories they tell can also help us understand their effectiveness as well as the limitations they must overcome.
Nathan Schneider is a scholar in residence of media studies and a reporter who writes about religion, technology and resistance.