.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Regulating the politicians

How politicians interact with their voters is becoming more and more diverse. Many Assembly members already have blogs and it is likely that this number will grow after the election.

Ciaran Jenkins on Blamerbell Briefs comments on the increasing use of Facebook by those who seek to serve and hints that perhaps we should act our age. His taunting rather reflects Glyn Davies' bewilderment at finding himself a member of this social network.

Ciaran tells us that 'Facebook is for writing crap banter on your mates' walls. It's for stalking attractive women in American colleges. And it's for posting embarrassing photos of drunken misdemeanours.' It seems that it is also now for politicians like Peter Hain, Sir Menzies Campbell and many others to reach out to a younger generation in an effort to get their message across.

Whilst they are there I don't feel too much like a fish out of water. Contrary to Ciaran's allegation of fakery, the interests I list on my facebook page are genuine and very much reflect the fact that I am a forty plus, aging rocker who just happens to like quirky science fiction programmes.

As politicians expand their usage of the interweb the more their activities will come to the attention of the Parliamentary authorities and so it has come to pass. When Assembly Members reconvene after the elections one of the many things they will be asked to vote on is a new protocol on how they should behave on-line. The Assembly authorities have decided that they want a piece of the action. They want to regulate what we can blog on and how our sites look. It will make for a very interesting debate.
On Facebook you have to join a group to receive messages from that group, so I really don't see what young Jenkins is going on about. And I don't see why politicians should be excluded from "crap banter". They practically invented it!
There is a difference between the professional and the personal. That is the key distinction.

Facebook is an social networking tool where people (usually real friends) let their virtual hair down. Groups are created with irony, not with serious intent. Banter is prevalent. There is no goal, it's just about an online exploration of what are usually friendships rooted at some stage in genuine face-to-face social interaction.

The new political element of Facebook ignores the frank personal honesty which has till now been taken for granted. The jokes you are not allowed to make, the innuendo and what time did *you* get in this morning? By their very nature, politicians want to avoid this sort of honesty.

Instead, it's a 'vote for me and I'll tell you what my favourite bands are' sort of trade-off that we've been seeing in the mainstream press for quite some time.
I just don't really get the whole 'politicians on facebook' thing - actually, I don't get the whole 'adults on facebook' thing - this stuff is for 14 year old boys in bands or maybe students with too much free time - if you're a grown-up, just pick up the phone and talk to people you want to talk to!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?