It's a new year. It is also the start of something else: campaign season. Lately, elections seem to be bringing about more unease than they used to. There is no escaping them! In reality, elections haven't changed--there has always been an election every year (even year and odd year elections). These days, though, we are experiencing campaigns in the era of social media. Since the arrival of social media, tensions around politics have heightened in ways we couldn’t have imagined a generation ago (and no, the irony of a blog post that will disseminate through social media isn’t lost on me).
When working with individuals and teams in the civic and governmental sector, social media often comes up as a sore subject. The most common complaints: trolls, assumptions, and rumors. It is not only that monitoring and correcting information takes a lot of time (which it does). It is also the self-consciousness that we may experience ourselves and in others. Reacting to social media can sometimes be a stand-in for dialog or execution.
All of this drama fiddles with emotions, begs for policy-making and happens in real-time. “Just staying out of it” doesn’t work anymore (and allows the jerks to tell the story). Politics as usual is amped up for now and the foreseeable future.
How will you handle the tension of the next election(s)? What is your relationship with social media and the content you experience there? What will you discover about yourself during hard times (or the just icky ones)? When our future selves look back, we will understand how these times shaped our spirit, commitments and institutions. Institutions like elections which are fundamental to governance. But first we go through it.
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