hoos

(online)

Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

a very anodyne description of #D17. remember that one?

I'm not sure if this is a moment I was most productive in the sense of 'getting more work done with less effort', but I know I'll never forget it as a rush of excitement and a sense that I was doing something important. It's funny actually--if you think of it one way, this is sort of a least productive moment.

I was at work, and on Twitter.

A few hundred of my friends were involved in a protest action downtown, and simultaneously around the world on this particular day there were people moving into the streets in support of the cause--New York, London, Paris, Mexico City, Cairo, more. In support of the day's events I had pre-scheduled a dozen or so factoid Tweets through Tweetdeck tagged with the event hashtag so that even while I was working at my desk I could be taking low-intensity action to spread the word through my networks online. I figured I could get my Real Jobby Work done while Tweetdeck passively did my activist work for me. What wound up happening was a little different.

It started by poking my head out of my cubicle to make sure no bosses were on their way, then I pulled up a livestream of my friends downtown on my phone. The action was starting to get intense, and I was getting questions from people on Twitter about what was happening, so I started reporting based on what I was seeing on the livestream and the texts I was receiving from people on the ground. It was pouring rain, dozens of people were lying on the wet street awaiting peaceful arrest, and tensions were high as the final moments were drawing near.

At the same time, I started to see on Twitter that in other cities there were miniature dramas unfolding everywhere: surprise banner drops here, police misconduct there, creative actions around the world and it was all live live live simultaneously. There came a moment I remember exactly--as the rain poured outside my window and I heard my heart beating in time with the rain through the livestream on my earbuds and I was translating the chants from Cairo and blasting out the photos from a blockade in Chicago and the excitement was moving too fast for me to follow--that this song reached its crescendo at 2:24 in the giant headphones I had on over my earbuds.

Suddenly I felt it in my bones: we were everywhere. We were faster. We were winning.

The moment passed, and the day went on, and I turned the pages of the calendar. I've been involved in activist work that included tens of thousands of people around me, but oddly I've never felt quite so connected to the people fighting for our causes as I felt that day on Twitter as the flow of information screamed by me on the web while I struggled to find and pass on the best of it.

I definitely didn't do any work I was getting paid for that morning, though.