Category Archives: Social Media

Parody’s Boring; Deceptive ‘Neutrality’ is Much, Much Worse

By Jay Menard

As we approach the Oct. 27th municipal election in Ontario, the rhetoric is increasing, the volume and the vehemence is growing, and the rancor is raging. And while recent concerns about on-line parody accounts may be valid, I’m more concerned about the clearly partisan accounts that are bordering on the verge of self-parody.

I’m not going to list the parody accounts in this space. Safe to say, if you do a search for some of London’s mayoral candidates on Twitter, you’ll find them. Oddly enough, it seems to be only the right-of-centre candidates that are getting this treatment (but I’m sure that’s just coincidence). And while some candidates have taken to actively trying to get them taken down, for the most part I believe they’re harmless.

Effective parody is very challenging. Humour is subjective, but political humour needs to be smart, biting, and insightful. These parody accounts are puerile, insulting, and — worst of all — just plain boring. Continue reading

Mandatory Voting Isn’t the Answer, Especially When Getting Educated is So Much Harder Now

By Jay Menard

More voters isn’t the answer. More educated voters is. But the fact is that it’s increasingly challenging for the average person to know what’s true and what’s just partisan spin.

Like clockwork, the idea of mandatory voting has come around again — this time with the Liberal Party has been floating a trial balloon about the concept. For mandatory voting to work, you have to incentivize the process — either positively (through tax breaks) or negatively (through threats). But what it misses is the fact that a 100 per cent voter turnout doesn’t mean anything if the vast majority are simple going through the motions.

Mandatory voting  doesn’t change the simple reality that a forced vote is not necessarily a good vote. And there can be no assurance that people who have previously not bothered to vote — for whatever reason — will suddenly take the responsibility seriously.

And it is a responsibility. Continue reading

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

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

Anonymity Rules

By Jason Menard

It’s easy to see the world in terms of black and white. Filtered through the prism of personal interest, right and wrong can be very clear. But step back and look across the entire spectrum and what seems clear is often muddled by shades of grey.

Ideally, everyone would put their name to what they write or say, on-line and off. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

Continue reading

No Good Deed Goes Unpublished?

By Jay Menard

I know some were inspired by Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi’s call for London to conscript his “Three Things for…” idea to encourage good deeds in the community.

Instead of being inspired, his call just made me sad.

Let me start by saying that I have no issue with the intent behind Nenshi’s Three Things for… idea. I just don’t know what it says about us that we need to have something like this at all.

Are we, as a society, so stuck staring into the palm of our hands that we don’t see the need around us and act accordingly? Has social networking made us so narcissistic that an action will not exist until it has received 30 retweets and a couple dozen Facebook likes?

Do we have to change the old adage from “no good deed goes unpunished” to “no good deed goes unpublished?” Continue reading