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The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street: First They Meetup, Then They Take Over

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 1 2011

On Monday, I heard Scott Heiferman of Meetup.com give a great five-minute rap to a group of foundation and nonprofit types on the relationship between communities and movements, with a focus on the surprising parallels between the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which I managed to video on my iPhone. Having watched 100 million people RSVP for ten million different Meetup events, he offered this observation about what happens after people connect: "Once people meet up, they usually follow that with a 'let's do this' statement," and out of that comes all kind of social action. But then he went further. With a stream of live Meetup RSVPs scrolling on the screen behind him at the rate of one per second, he suggested that a whole new way of doing things was being born:

People are turning away from Big Media, Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Industry, and they're turning to each other...This big shift from TV to Facebook, what are the people spending all this time on Facebook doing? They're not looking at their Biggest Loser friend on TV, they're looking at their biggest loser friend in real life. You can write it off as something stupid and silly, and who cares about the Role-Players guild meetup? It's subtle, but it's the signal of something really important starting: It's people turning to each other. They're starting to sell to each other, rent to each other, loan to each other. They're going to insure each other, it's a whole new economy.

Here's the whole thing: