Consumer Activism: Did Bank Transfer Day move you?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-1107_Bank_Transfer_Day_Poster.jpgHIGH-TECH, NEW-MEDIA ACTIVISM FOR BANK TRANSFER DAY. This image of a modified $100 bill was passed around the Internet over the past two weeks to encourage participation in this campaign. If you have a digital device that “reads” Matrix Code, aim it at the code box in the left side of this image. You will jump to a Facebook organizing site for the campaign. (Image now in public domain, catalogued at Wikimedia Commons.) Did Bank Transfer Day move you—to move your money? November 5 was Bank Transfer Day, a nationwide event encouraging people to transfer their money from big for-profit banks to local not-for-profit credit unions and community banks. It was organized via Facebook by Kristen Christian, an art gallery owner in Los Angeles, who was fed up with big banks.

“I started this because I felt like many of you do,” she said on one of her Facebook pages. “I was tired—tired of the fee increases, tired of not being able to access my money when I need to, tired of them using what little money I have to oppress my brothers & sisters. So I stood up.” Over 58,000 people like the Facebook cause, and over 85,000 are “attending” this virtual event, according to Facebook statistics.

This is a very clever campaign, organized by Christian and others to play on a whole series of cultural associations. First, she timed it to Guy Fawkes Day, and a version of a Guy Fawkes mask is the movement’s logo. Fawkes was an English Catholic who joined the Gunpowder Plot to assassinate King James I. The plot was foiled on November 5, 1605, when Fawkes was captured guarding the cache of explosives under the House of Lords. Second, many people participating in this activism also are reminded of the famous Alan Moore comic book series—and a movie starring Natalie Portman—both called V for Vendetta that is set in an ominous future era when a ruthless police state has taken power. A mysterious hero wearing this same Guy Fawkes mask, shown above, tries to bring down this cruel political system. Finally, these symbols are set against other potent American imagery, such as Revolutionary War-era leader Benjamin Franklin.

It remains to be seen how effective Bank Transfer Day was at denting the big banks, but it is noteworthy how quickly the cause went viral. The organizers of Bank Transfer Day explicitly disavow any affiliation with Occupy Wall Street, but it clearly is tapping into the same stream of consumer sentiment. (Last month we discussed Occupy Wall Street.)

Have you seen any signs of this Bank Transfer movement?

Glimpse it in Facebook? On Twitter? Anywhere else over the past week?

Are you sympathetic to this cause? Or, do you oppose it?

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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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