Author Archives: Jay Menard

Voices Carry

By Jay Menard

The problem is not the existence of echo chambers. They’re a fact of life. The only problem comes from not realizing you’re in one and not searching out other voices.

The other night, I was ‘involved’ in a conversation that occurred without my knowledge. It was a Twitter discussion about whether London’s downtown was over-represented on the social network. As I’ve discussed the need to seek out different voices, my name came up.

To be honest, I think over-representation is the wrong word. It’s just the simple fact of life that certain types of people flock to certain locations. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is.

The only danger is when we believe our limited experience represents the totality of thought. And that’s why, from a communications perspective, seeking out differing voices to ensure we’re getting the whole story is just common sense. Social is just one tool in a broad and diverse community-growing and communication-fostering tool box. Continue reading

London Council Exists in Our Own Image

By Jay Menard

I admire London’s new mayor for reaching out to the community, but I’m concerned that asking the London Twitterverse about decorum is like polling cannibals about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle – they may be aware of the concept, but they certainly don’t practice it.

So it’s safe to say that any advice digested from that source be taken with a Goderich-sized grain of salt. After all, our existing council offers a pretty fair representation of London’s on-line community. Continue reading

Grammar Rules – But They’re Not Absolute

By Jay Menard

Why is it that we encourage everyone to experiment and seek out new boundaries — unless of course they’re putting pen to paper.

And why is that many of us for whom the written word is a passion are the worst offenders at stifling creativity and, well, being a pain in the ass.

Few people will look at a painting and say, “Yeah, I like it, but that colour in the corner is just wrong.” But there are those who will dismiss an entire argument because there’s a sentence that ends in a preposition. There are others who love nothing more than pointing out other people’s grammatical flaws.

That’s not cool or funny. It’s just obnoxious and counter-productive. Continue reading

Language Lessons

By Jay Menard

What’s more important? Using one’s voice or being able to listen? When it comes to trying to engage a diverse, but largely fragmented, public, we need to focus on a few key language lessons.

Even more important than the act of listening is the ability to understand. It’s where we often fall short and where more of our efforts need to fall. Continue reading

It’s Not the Band I Hate, It’s Their Fans

By Jay Menard,

“It’s not the band I hate. It’s their fans.” Yes, I am gearing myself up for Sloan’s appearance this weekend at the Western Fair’s Beer & BBQ Show, but that’s beside the point.

That lyric also perfectly sums up the way I feel about some of the participants in our municipal campaigns. And the danger for the candidates is that they’re going to suffer from guilt by association.

London, especially on Twitter and other social networks including our local paper’s comments section, is easily likened to a playground. Whether it’s puerile name calling or taking their figurative ball and going home when they don’t get their way, we see a lot of the worst in discourse.

I had hoped during a municipal campaign things would change, but I haven’t seen it yet. Continue reading

Declining Just an Empty Protest that Won’t Move the Needle

By Jay Menard

When exactly did we determine that voting against something is better than voting for something?

Strategic voting is bad enough – the idea of compromising your beliefs in some grand effort to ensure “they” don’t get it. It’s semi-understandable when it comes to our first-past-the-post system, especially if you’re in a riding where vote-splitting may be an issue.

But this idea of “Declining your vote” as a grand statement against the political system? Sorry for being frank, but it’s egocentric and ineffective. Continue reading

Sam Selection Special, But in a Perfect World it Wouldn’t Be

By Jason Menard,

Tonight, we were privy to what was, in my opinion, the best seventh-round selection of the NFL draft. And I hope we’ll have more of these moments in the near future so that, eventually, they won’t be special.

The video of Michael Sam receiving a phone call from the St. Louis Rams notifying him that he was their seventh-round selection is powerful, emotional, and uplifting. The image of his boyfriend, holding his hand and comforting Sam as the player struggles to regain his composure, is touching. And the kiss between the two was natural, organic, and will have ultimately no impact on his on-field abilities.

But the Sam situation was unnecessarily different. And it shows how far we have to go in this society until what should be considered normal actually is. Continue reading