This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 14 March 2013.
I’m writing this post as I groove along to the dulcet tones of Parliament TV streaming live (yay for living in the future), awaiting the second reading of the Marriage Equality Bill.
The Twitter feed is buzzing (except for those poor souls who had to trade their smartphones for the sheer awesomeness of being there in person). Facebook has been positively spammy with the weight of updates from people urging their online friends to email their MPs and like this page and watch this video (and defriend the bigots who you only friended because you were at school together.)
This is the future of political conversation. And as Bomber’s post on Facebook proportionality shows, some parties are a lot more prepared for it than others.
Labour tries – bless them – but their website design is horrible, their blog is dire, and their Twitter engagement runs the full spectrum from robotic to trolly.
The Greens obviously do a lot better. They just seem to get it, and I’m desperately trying not to draw any conclusions about the demographics involved because then I get accused of hating old white men again.
National? A few shining examples, at least of MPs (e.g. Tau Henare) who are completely willing to embrace new media and run with it, but otherwise still paddling around watching the social media wave go past them, happy to catch it the next time around.
But what does it mean? When people aren’t buying newspapers, aren’t watching the ads on the telly (if they’re watching the telly at all), when a lot of people prefer to let their friends and favourite celebrities filter the news of the day for them? The parties who are there already, and who get it, and who know how to get their messages across and be part of a real conversation without sounding fake are going to get the job done.
Since you’re reading a blog right now, I’m going to assume you’re part of the internet-savvy population. So compare how you feel knowing Katrina Shanks declared that “filesharing is actually an illegal activity” (yes, ALL filesharing) in the House, with the Green Party kicking off a campaign to protect our beaches by inciting a little online rivalry. Or, notwithstanding the fact you may feel the same way about Reddit that I do, Gareth Hughes running an Ask Me Anything thread.
Two of those things are examples of finding ways to use online communication to interest people, especially young people, and make them feel that they’re playing a part (even if it’s just a cute little gesture of parochialism.)
One of those things is a guaranteed way to make most people who understand Teh Interwebz think twice about voting for a party which would let you be in charge of anything technical (see also: Clare Curran.)
Social media almost certainly won’t be the one big decisive factor of Election 2014, or even 2017. But it’s also not a passing fad which parties can get away with ignoring.
Might I cheekily suggest they start by realising that we bloggers aren’t all a bunch of “anonymous” people “behind darkened curtains”?