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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

This Time, It's Political - Well...

As a Libra, I feel very strongly both ways on everything.  So, it's tough in the voting booth.  I'm troubled by the image of my mother-in-law going over a cliff in my new Benz.  And Shrodinger's cat gives me fits.
Aside:  Heisenberg and Shrodinger are driving down a road and a policeman pull them over.
"Do you know how fast you were going?" asked the cop of Heisenberg.
"No, but I can tell you where I've been and where I'm headed."
The cop noses around a bit and asks Heisenberg to pop the trunk.  The cop opens a box in the back.  "Hey, do you know you got a dead cat in here?"
And Shrodinger responds, "Well, I do NOW!."
OK, put that away.  I want to talk about politicians' websites.  I'll start with a simple question to the pols:  "What's the matter with you?"
This time the shoe's on the other foot.  People are lying to you!  Those fine men and women in your communications department are telling you that the Internet and social media are mass media. 
My fellow Americans, they aren't.  And the fact that you think they are shows your A) gullibility, B) arrogance, C) lack of attention, and/or D) usual willingness to take the easy way out.*
Listen up.  New media are one-to-one (1:1) that's you-to-him or you-to-her media.  Ya got that, McFly?  What a phenomenal opportunity to you to talk to someone and let them know that you hear him or her (I refuse to use the plural pronoun, it's one-to-one!) and to communicate with them at that level.
Wow!  I see the wheels turning in those narrow minds..."Hey, I can give a different answer to each correspondent." 
No you can't!  Well, you can but we constituents aren't quite as stupid as you think.  And we do talk to one another.  But that's not what I'm talking about.
Responding to a constituent's email or a post on Facebook is as personal as a handshake or a smile with eye contact.  It's a chance to connect.  And what do you do?  You have an aid or lackey select one of your prepared responses (based on the subject you force someone to pick) and send it in return, often days or weeks later.
How do I know?  I've checked out so many pols' sites that I'm nearly cross-eyed.  I've either submitted comments or questions or asked someone in their state/district to do so (for all those office holders who obviously plan to go no higher in politics so don't want to hear from - or respond to - anyone but their constituents.)

Courtesy Majix
Think about email.  Someone took the time to write to you individually.  To ask you a question or tell you how he or she feels about something.  It's tantamount to someone calling you by name and you saying, "Hi there."  What makes it really bad is that you choose to do that.
Now ask, how would someone feel if they got a note back that said, "Bill (Jeannie, Tom, Cucuzza, whatever), thanks for your note on the issue with the Department of Education."  Then make a specific reference and respond to his/her question with an answer.  No soft shoe, an answer.  And keep this in mind:  If, as they say, all politics is local, how can you localize your response for that particular person.
It might get you another vote.  With regard to that, I'm sure someone in your campaign has calculated the cost of a vote.  Simplest way?  How much did you spend and how many votes did you get.  You know that. Now do the math on the cost of responding.  Cheap, isn't it.  So, will you do it?  Think about it?  Yeah, I doubt it too.  Then again, if your opponent does..."
As for Facebook, if you want to be a propaganda machine, go ahead.  People will see it as that.  Can you afford to allow negative posts on your page?  Take a real look in that narcissistic reflecting pool and ask yourself why you shouldn't.  Are you a bad representative?  Bad legislator?  Wrong end of an idea because it serves you personally?  Is it really all about you?   Unfortunately, I know the answer to that one.
Twitter:  There is no better way to step in it than Twitter. Quips will be taken out of context. There is no context except with other sources.  There.  Did it in under 140 characters.
Now, on to your websites.  A couple of you have at least figured that part out. 
Visitors care less about your self aggrandizement and more about what affects them.  Pix of you at a bill signing?  Hint:  It's about the bill. On that very first page, give people information.  Give 'em a choice of finding out more about a number of things that might interest them.  Hey, if some of them link to a page where you are explaining the bill/movement/concern/expense/tax, that'd be great.  But many of those I've seen fall short.  Not because they have bad information but for two other reasons.  The first is the I, I, I POV that, like a lot of pix, makes it more about you than the topic. 
The second (Gonna get a little McLuhanish on you here) is production.  I see too many where you think you're giving a speech. Remember that 1:1 thing?  You're sitting just across the table or desk or kitchen counter with the viewer.  And he/she has lots to do. 

Get their attention, make the eye (lens) contact, and speak conversationally.  It is exactly that.  A conversation.  You do all the talking without listening; nothing new about that. (Couldn't resist)
Also in the production realm, I see a lot of shots that seem set up with the camera at a distance and zoomed in.  Maybe that's to keep from exposing too much of the background.  But that perspective puts distance between you and the viewer.  It's colder and if you're speaking conversationally, it fights with that aural perspective.  It's that inscrutable psychological stuff.
I have the feeling that none of this will be heeded since you're all a lot smarter than any of your voters.  But, what the heck. I learned a lot researching and had fun writing it.
"If I'm wrong, nothing happens! We go to jail - peacefully, quietly. We'll enjoy it! But if I'm right, and we can stop this thing... Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters." - Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ghostbusters
*Many of you ingrates fall into all four categories.