Friday, February 03, 2012

What do the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, SOPA, and Bank of America have in common?

Not taking a side in the current Planned Parenthood/Susan G. Komen Foundation kerfuffle, but instead reflecting on the trend of internet popular opinion rallying to steamroll somebody's newly unpopular initiatives.

Bank of America announced a monthly $5 debit card fee, but withdrew the idea once popular opinion roared in protest.

Likewise, SOPA & PIPA were on the fast-track for congressional approval until popular protest took off.

Now Komen has announced a policy change that has rallied fans of Planned Parenthood. I'm seeing a lot of counter protest on Facebook, and I won't be surprised if Komen reverses themselves or otherwise makes a concession.

So what's going on here?

The internet changed the calculus for each of the sponsors of change. The internet concentrates and amplifies popular opinion, and in some cases places activist action or retaliatory action an easy mouse click.

But for years political activists have generated grass roots (or sometimes astro-turf) campaigns, which means that either the internet has brought about a change in the magnitude of grass roots response or the sponsors are reacting differently (overreacting?)

My guess is that the latter is true - these recent protests are louder and more intense than previously experienced, but their duration is unknown, as the sponsors (BofA, etc.) have caved quickly. I think we will see more of the same until either some group answers popular protest with a certain "no," or rallies counter-protests online. I think, though, that the bias in popular opinion is against new initiatives, so I expect to see many more successful online protests - generally a good thing, except for public policy, which equates to mob rule.

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With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
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World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous