Closing comment – Election 2013: Compasses, compassion & lycra-clad pollies

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Not certain which political party best aligns with your views and values in this election? Consult the vote compass. The ABC-hosted ‘Vote Compass’ is an educational tool developed by a non-profit group of political scientists enabling you to find out “how you stack up against the parties question-by-question or see how the parties stack up against each other”.

Your answers to questions will plot you on the Australian political landscape, somewhere between social liberalism and conservativism on one axis, and the economic left and right on the other. It will also tell you how much you agree with the three major parties, as well as how you rate the party leaders.

Speaking of compasses, did you know scientists warned against using Twitter and Facebook because it could harm our moral compasses? Apparently social media channels like Twitter and Facebook don’t allow time for compassion or admiration. Agree or disagree?

This theory is not new news, mind you. The story dates back to 2009, when it was found that emotions linked to moral sense are slow to respond to news and events and have failed to keep up with the modern world because in the time it takes to fully reflect on a story of anguish and suffering, the news bulletin has already moved on or the next Twitter update is already being read.

What? Missed that last point because your train of thought had already left the station? Tony Abbott in lycra – there, we’ve got your attention back.

Social media may have only taken on a marginal role in the last two Australian elections but this time you’d have to think the sheer numbers on social media will mean it will be a major player in determining who gets a bed at the Lodge.

Since 2010, social media subscriptions have ballooned across all platforms, with more than 11 million Australians now on Facebook and about 2 million on Twitter (including our very own Helen Steel AKA @MelbourneSteel.

Locally, the major parties can at least agree social media is the new campaign frontier and are spending large portions of their budgets on social media. In addition, both parties’ campaign bosses have recruited full-time staff dedicated to online campaigning.

The Liberal Party’s federal director has created a sophisticated unit that mines data, raises money, directs voters to candidates’ Facebook profiles and paints a bad picture of Labor MPs in YouTube clips.

Labor has formed a full-time social media unit and You Tube veteran and PM son Marcus Rudd has joined it as a volunteer.

So, will a pollie’s prominent performance on social media help sway our moral compasses to the left or right?

Rudd is the current frontrunner in the digital realm, easily eclipsing Abbott on Likes and Followers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean his clicks or views will translate to votes, does it?

Rather scarily, the SMH has the following advice for social-media underdog Abbott if he wants to “win the social media election”: “loosen up, and possibly bring out the lycra”.

Forget the moral compass. Someone call the fashion police and quick!

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

(thanks for this week’s lovely words by our chief content curator, Danielle!)

Abbott’s boy band heads in one direction

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