(image by murplejane)
Anyone living on this planet will have heard of the recent riots over here in Greece that have started back in December after a teen was fatally shot and have only recently subsided – only to be replaced by sporadic acts of violence of generally much smaller scale. A few exceptions include the shooting of policemen in more than one instance which in one case resulted in a serious injury of one of them.
Another exception that has left me newly perplexed about what to make of those events was the ‘entrapment’ of dozens of people inside a building downtown by police. Those cornered included participants in the most recent riot-related demo, some lawyers and some journalists but also some passersby from what I could gather. It is not entirely clear what happened there (whether arrests were made, for example) but what did happen involved the police assaulting those civilians and using teargas against them.
Two more interesting things about the event intrigued me and made me get emotionally involved. For one thing, there were cameras there – both outside and inside the ring of police. At least one video from these cameras were subsequently released online – and played even on TV from what I hear – by the newly created online TV channel tvxs.gr. What’s important is that these videos really allow you to feel as if you were there – on the inside of the police ring and basically trapped.
(image by endiaferon)
For another, the police not only attacked the civilians but in between spent long amounts of time just staring at the trapped people. This seemed strange to me. I could understand attacking or trying to arrest them. I could understand leaving. I could not understand just staring and remaining inactive even when people started shouting at them to be released – or even to be arrested; anything just to end this.
And then I realised that maybe this inactivity and lack of reaction was perhaps planned and not just policemen without orders. It was definitely a form of psychological warfare – on a small scale of course. But this is where it becomes large: the cameras were on the inside. Whoever viewed the video even days later would immediately feel the psychological pressure – especially those that have not felt it before on the street (like me and many others who may not be that much of the demo kind of people).
So my point is this: we who are involved in the social media and the new technologies keep saying how unique a moment in history this is when soon virtually everyone on the street will be able to beam back to the internet images and video of what’s going on around the world. But perhaps this is working the other way round too. Social media and the technology can be ‘gamed’ or be put to use by those who want to spread their message not of creative disruption and freedom but of control and restraining order. The valid counter-argument is of course that we’re now much better off than before as, for example, we can now prove alleged wrongdoings by police. And while my point is worth considering – perhaps the policemen were just incompetent at that particular incident, but the actual effect still serves as an example if you look at the broader picture, I do agree that we are more powerful with that technology in our hands. Hence, I will embed that video here:
I was genuinely troubled the past weeks questioning myself how should someone react to the outrage and the riots other than by participating in demos – which still seems to me somewhat thinking within the box and still trying to play the game by the old rules. I was certain that the answer to a more smart and efficient solution lied in new media. But now I understand that they are not exactly a walk in the park either and that instead – much like normal streets – they may turn into traps too.tags: analysis
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