Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Anti-BP Un-Flash Flash Mob, Chicago, June 11

A so-called "flash mob" will take place in Chicago on Friday, June 11 to protest the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Generally referred to as "BP Black Friday Flash Mob," but also being called "Oil Over The Bridge." (Instructions for participants below.) The event has been carefully orchestrated and announced well in advance for days. That's pretty much the opposite of what a "flash mob" is. "As is typical of a flash mob, no one in particular is organizing the event," reported Lorraine Swanson at Lake Effect News on June 8. That's about all that qualifies the June 11 protest as a "flash mob." SearchMobileComputing defines a flash mob this way (my emphasis added): "...a group of strangers who organize themselves, using electronic media such as cell phones or the Internet, to gather together in a public place, behave in a predetermined manner for a predetermined amount of time, and then quickly disperse. A successful flash mob event depends on the element of surprise. Participants, called mobsters, share news about the time and place for an upcoming event through postings on blogs, chain e-mail messages, SMS text messages and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter." And there's the problem: The "BP Black Friday Flash Mob" will have little if any surprise for many observers. It's that surprise! element that gives the mob its flash. Announce a blitzkrieg and it's suddenly just a krieg mit kein blitz. The event is already all over the Blogosphere and Facebook, although it must be said that, as usual, the Mainstream Media seems unaware of it. BP, of course, is monitoring its dreadful public relations closely on the Internet. So much so, in fact, that BP purchased ads on Google's top "Oil Spill" search results. While the event might not fully meet the definition of "flash mob," it can fairly be said that it will be very flash mob-like. I admit that I may be splitting hairs with all of this. Nevertheless, it certainly promises some good street theater and a great photo opportunity. All other things aside, after all, that's what a good flash mob should be. There are a number of references to the event on the Internet, including a Facebook page optimistically named "1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP." As of 4:30 PM CDT on June 9, they had 9,257 members, a few short of one million. Another Facebook group, "Oil Over The Bridge," has a description that starts with, "I'm just spreading the good word, I did not come up with the idea." That group had 20 people "maybe attending" as of 4:40 PM CDT on June 9. My favorite anti-BP group on Facebook has got to be "Hey BP Oil, Thanks For The Oil Spill Aholes." "The Yes Men were forwarding an email around about the event, and perhaps folks are involved," wrote Swanson. Perhaps MoveOn is involved, but are they the organizers? Did they originate the idea? We don't know; there's little or no trail to be found on the Internet, we discovered. That's good flash mobbing, but as I said, they've dampened their element of surprise. A group calling itself "Seize BP" has been staging demonstrations across the U.S. since Thursday, June 3. The final day is Thursday, June 10. Find a demonstration near you at their website. Seize BP staged a Chicago protest last week, on Thursday, June 3 at 5:00 p.m. at the BP Offices at the intersection of Randolph & Michigan, by Millennium Park. (Try finding coverage of that in the Mainstream Media.) Instructions for the June 11 BP Black Friday Flash Mob event are below the Related items: RELATED: BP Gas Station Owners Beg Vandals to Stop Gothamist (NYC) Hundreds Protest BP on Houston Street ‎Gothamist (NYC) Why seizing BP is not necessarily a good idea CNN BP Boycotts Could Hurt Small Businesses 10TV BP Boycotts Hurt the Little Guy‎ Newser Calgarians protest BP oil spill‎ Toronto Sun Protest at Jersey City BP Scheduled for Thursday Jersey City Independent Nude Protest Over Oil: PR Spin Worse Than BP, Dammit Houston Press Nevada City residents protest... The Union of Grass Valley Shrimper Douses Herself With Oil in Spill Protest‎ CBS News Links on "Seize BP Campaign" (at Facebook) Instructions to participants in the June 11 "BP Black Friday Flash Mob" are: Friday 06/11/10 @ 12:11 pm (Rain or Shine!) Millennium Park Chicago Bring a black umbrella. If you don’t have a black umbrella, wear all black. 12:11 pm: Casually converge on the BP Pedestrian Bridge 12:20 pm: When the whistle blows, we will generate a visual representation of the oil slick seen from above by filling the entire walkway of the BP bridge. Starting from the middle of the bridge over Columbus Drive, open your umbrella and squat or sit down, covering as much space with your umbrella or body as possible. Sit close enough to the people around you to create a canopy of umbrellas and bodies. Please do not shout, carry signs, confront patrons of Millennium Park, damage property, or otherwise break any laws. This flash mob is a silent protest intended to bring together a community of concerned citizens in creating a living illustration of the damage that threatens the collective health of our planet. The intent is not to block the bridge, nor to damage it, but to join together in a lively way to make a statement: swift action must be taken before more of our world is destroyed by oil. 12:35 pm: When the whistle blows a second time, quickly and calmly collect yourself and disperse. Please do not linger any longer than necessary. Don’t forget to greet your neighbors: introduce yourself, make new friends. A key objective for this action is to have fun! If anyone asks what is going on or what you are doing, we suggest simply stating, “The oil flow must be stopped.”