Social Media: The World's Citizen Wall

by Knowlton Thomas | Culture

It was incredibly heartwarming to witness the amazing recovery of downtown Vancouver after the chaos of the post-Canucks game riot.

Whether orchestrated by professional out-of-town thugs as the VPD suggest or simply the culminating chaos of myriad drunken fools, the riot damaged buildings, cars, people, and the reputation of our fine city.

But what better way to restore both the city and its reputation than with numerous volunteers from all walks of life banding together to say, "THIS is MY Vancouver"—and no rioters can take that away.

The epicentre of this recovery effort is the Citizen Wall, which will surely make history in Vancouver. 

The Citizen Wall is, at its foundation, merely the cheap plywood that covers the many broken windows of the history Hudsons Bay building the rioters obliterated. Yet it is so much more. It now has thousands upon thousands of hand-written messages from Vancouverites—high-ups like premier Christy Clark and mayor Gregor Robertson, to the most average of joes strolling on by. It is filled with inspiration, hope, belief, and conviction for vengeance upon the guilty, like the writings on a cast of an innocent child beaten by a bully.

Which made me realize that social media, in its purest form, is really just a global Citzen Wall: a universal locale for absolutely anyone and everyone to express themself in the simplest form, to define their belief and opinion, and to make the world a better and more unified place.

Twitter has executed this with #ThisIsMyVancouver, a hashtag that has shot up to the top trending topic in Vancouver since the morning after the riot. Here, dialogue flows freely as proud Vancouverites swell with joy over the true colours of the city being shown.

Facebook has executed this with an album in Downtown Vancouver's page called The Citizen Wall—immortalizing the many messages that have combined to become such a powerful statement of optimism.

And YouTube has executed on this with touching videos of the Wall and of the cleanup.

Hashtags and pages and albums define nooks and crannies and corners of the Wall, for those from here and there, who believe in this and that, to gather. But minus all that, social media, broken down into its most basic form, is the world's Citizen Wall.

And we must not take this for granted.

The Petition to Preserve

A petition has been started to preserve the Vancouver Citizen Wall:

After the horrific events of the riot in Vancouver on June 16, 2011, the city and sport of hockey were thrown in a horrible situation. Our city's reputation was tarnished worldwide and the bad seemed to outnumber the good. However, Vancouver's reaction has its positive sides as well and we need to display this -- especially when it is such an important event in Vancouver's history.

The most well-recognized symbol of this positivity is the so-called "citizen wall," made from boards covering smashed windows at The Bay. This wall, consisting of Vancouverites' reactions about the event, symbolizes what Vancouver is really about.

After the glass is repaired and signs of the devastation are finally gone, we feel that this beacon of positivity should be preserved to show future generations how a world-class city can rebound from such an event. It will be a reminder of how Vancouver can come together in the face of devastation -- the true nature of Vancouver.

Please preserve the citizen wall for future generations. Preserve it for future Vancouverites. Preserve it for our Vancouver.

To sign it, go here.

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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