By Kaleb Lucero ’18
Attention is a resource, and persuading someone to believe in something requires their attention.
The recent protest movements in America have been wildly successful at garnering the attention of the nation, but, as protests and public disturbances are usually, they have also been controversial.
Specifically, the disruptive or violent aspects of these protests have been what I have heard the most about. The complaints, when protests first start, aren’t necessarily disagreeing with the topic of the protest itself, but rather is an immediate reaction to the conduct of the protesters.
Blocking a freeway, disrupting the meeting of individuals or organizations, and the destruction of property/aggressive protest have all created a flurry of negative reactions.
But it has gained a lot of attention, hasn’t it?
Even at Brophy the practice of disruption to “raise awareness” (as is the almost universal term in explanations) occurred when a wall was erected along students’ path to classes in order to bring light to issues with our current immigration policy.
And what was the immediate reaction? From my perspective, most students, including me, were irritated with it at first. But the topic of many discussions afterward was the wall.
The wall protest had managed to capture all of our attention, a vital resource for any movement.
Discussion in the following days about the issue, not just the wall, but immigration reform, may have changed students’ opinions on both subjects.
At the national level, disruptive protests, even violent protests, give groups the power to punch far beyond their weight level. Even a small organization of people can get the country’s attention if their method of protest is daring enough.
But when you use bold methods to gain attention, the next step is converting that attention to support using persuasion. Otherwise, you just got yourself attention using a tactic most people will look at in a negative light. This, of course, might hurt the movement far more than helping it.
However, this isn’t to say that all of these recent protests have been radical. The point is that recent protests are successfully bringing light to their issue.
The whole world is looking at them, and every time a new demonstration starts, every news outlet in the country seems to report on it.
Radio talk show hosts and news outlets are all taking up the story and focusing on the elements that are agreeable to their viewer base. Especially with the modern environment of “analysis” rather than dry fact reporting, it seems that every story and every protest is being dispersed through a variety of lens and perspectives.
But hardly any of those perspectives are directly from the protesters themselves. They’ve stirred up a whole lot of attention to their issue, but it seems that there’s trouble in capitalizing and aggressively utilizing that attention in order to persuade and convert people into supporters.
I would attribute this to a lack of unity and clear leadership. Many protests today seem to be mass reactions to issues, in which attendees and participants seem to be organized and inspired by their general consensus that whatever happened is bad, and that their needs to be change.
But beyond that, it seems difficult to find a concise and clearly articulated course of action or objective. Without this, it is nearly impossible to persuade the people to a unified goal, and leaves the attention garnered and the outcome of the protests to be defined by outside forces.