I’d like to pick up from where Dan Weaver left off on his post concerning mayoral pandering and the ongoing bruhaha over mayoral social media.
First, let’s address the whole issue of social media.
When Mayor Thane first advocated for a Web site and a social media presence, the whole notion of a digital presence for the city was mocked and ridiculed to the point that we should not even have a Web site or at best, we should get some high schoolers to do it as building a Web site takes at most 15 to 30 minutes. For those of us who practice in the social media space, that claim displays the level of knowledge of digital media by those advancing those arguments — it is precisely zero.
However, as knowledge of a subject is inversely proportional to how strongly you advocate against said subject, the meme of the foolishness of a Web site or social media gained traction as a talking point against the mayor. So when the mayor then advocated for an administrative assistant to help with social media and the Web, the Common Council as the righteous “voice of the people” pulled the position as who cares about social media and the Web site. We need to protect tax payers!
Ironically today, the very same chorus railing against the ‘foolishness’ of the Web site, Facebook and social media find themselves unable to counter the effectiveness and success of Mayor Thane in utilizing social media to communicate during the recent disasters. It’s a disaster indeed when a meme finds itself exposed as nonsensical, foolish and short-sighted. But fret not, a new meme can be hatched and set free post haste. Let me deconstruct this new meme so you can see that this new strain is even more nonsensical than the last.
What the usual chorus wants you to believe are two mutually opposed concepts — social media does not matter and social media does matter. It’s the pinnacle of cognitive dissonance. Here’s how it plays out.
As social media costs money, how dare the city spend money on new technology? Unless of course, it is to communicate with people during a disaster. Then this technology is awesome as we must communicate with our citizens during this trying time. But , rutro, the mayor communicating and reaching out to the community via social media improves her reach and message into the community –gasp– and it’s a CAMPAIGN SEASON. How DARE the mayor reach out to the community on Facebook even if it is to post updates on an ongoing natural disaster? I could go on but you see the underlying game here.
And on and on it goes — from the conflation of the mayor’s personal blog to her personal Facebook page to the city Web site to the city Facebook page. It’s all conflated to criticisize the success of technology in spite of the usual chorus’ wholesale rejection of technology, innovation and –gasp– media that you cannot get on your AM radio.
Let me issue a challenge to the critics of the social media practices of Mayor Thane to question what the other candidates for the mayor and other offices would do and would have done from a social media perspective during the recent and perhaps future disasters. Let me be more pointed: how would Mr Emanuelle respond to a crisis on a part-time basis and with his self-evident disregard for social media? What fate befalls the Web site — so reviled for its existence in the first place and now reviled for its lack of updates? What do the critics envision of the fate of the Facebook site? Who will administer the digital properties of the city or will we “protect the taxpayer” by tossing it in the digital graveyard, content to embrace the early 21st century with early 20th century technology. Or will the Web site be a “shared service”, in other words, something everyone talks about but no one hosts , relegating it the digital dust heap but “sharing” the memory in our minds that we once had a digital presence in the 21st century.
Sadly, the key questions on social media and disaster planning remain unasked because asking the very question gives credence to Mayor Thane’s embrace of the technology while the very same folks were railing against it. Namely, what should the city’s social media policy be in terms of disaster planning? How does the city tie with other agencies in case of an emergency? Is the issue not one of communicating as effectively, quickly and profusely as possible and how to best do that so losses in lives and property are mitigated to the extent possible? Or is the aim not really the public interest but the private interests of those critical of the mayor?
No, we cannot ask that as Mayor Thane’s opponents and critics demonstrate no grasp of how technology can be leveraged in such a situation and by their own campaign seem unable to grasp the very same technology. SO what do you do when you cannot debate on the merits of an issue — you reframe the issue.
It was made clear, in no uncertain terms, to the Council and the public that keeping digital properties current required resources. If you champion the Council to eliminate that resource then you should not get to argue the flip side that the Web sites are not up-to-date. If you now argue that the mayor should solely manage that , then let’s ask all the mayoral candidates how they will administer that now so vital role.
The other thread in Dan Weaver’s post involves the issue of the Mayor ‘pandering to’ Latinos through her recent event.
Once again, the affront here to Ms Thane’s critics is not the act of pandering but the target audience of the pander. You see, in our fair city, only one group can be the panderee– our senior citizens– so to engage any other group with even a hint of attention on their issues and concerns presents near heresy.
I tend to be hyperbolic but on the issue of pandering I think I’m actually understating the ingrained institutionalized art form of pandering to seniors. Let me give a few examples off the top:
— The Buddhists want to purchase property here: What will our seniors think? Our seniors are TERRIFIED!!!!
–The Golf Course needs to raise course fees : What will our seniors do with raising golf fees?
–Parents want smaller class sizes for their kids: What will seniors do about their taxes?
And on and on.
It is virtually a 24/7/365 cycle of pandering to seniors across the political and community spectrum. But does anyone push back against that? Largely, no, because as I have learned, that does not endear you to too many folks. You cannot advocate for anything without someone
pandering thinking about how it will effect seniors.
It’s ironic indeed to decry pandering to Latinos and Hispanics when we have a wholesale industry on the local airwaves and coffee shops that does quite the opposite of pandering to Latinos and Hispanics. If you thought the Buddhists freaked people out, wait to see what would happen if the Hispanic and Latino community asserted itself in local politics and the local community and the sway of seniors were to be challenged.
Let’s see the great outcry of pandering when our local candidates pan out to various senior functions– that can’t be pandering — that’s listening to “the people” and “protecting our seniors”.
It’s all too much really.
Just another day in the land of cognitive dissonance.