Single issue petitions on websites like Change.org, and others of their ilk, tend to be focused on the simplest messages one can extract from an issue. The hardest line and most sensational language is encouraged to guarantee two things: the most possible signatures, and bountiful media coverage. On first glance that seems like a good thing, but what is missed with this push?
My understandable, human and heartfelt response to the tragedy of the Sydney siege was all of those things, but only those things. It was informed by my own past trauma, which are legitimate parts of the conversation but not the whole of it. It was not nuanced or critiqued, and it did not engage in community consultation. I simply said aloud and formally what many were feeling, before the facts had come into play. Swept into a maelstrom of commentary and an unanticipated furious public response, I was left reeling and scrambling to begin the consultation that should have been the foundation of any campaign.
From work I’ve been doing for a forthcoming book on new media and Australian politics, I have some useful data that may partially inform this discussion in the form of Facebook wallposts from 600 Australians collected before this recent debate took off (late 2011). In recent days I’ve reanalysed this dataset to shed some light on the treatment of women in the social media space.
I’m interested in addressing it as an instance of popular culture that again has kids tearing through books, hungry for more, at the controversy and ‘moral panic’ that it seems to be creating, and in looking at the elements of what, for me, made it something out of the league of the ‘Twilights’ of the world.
This is a Summer Slowdown Guest Post (thanks QoT!) – a repost of a blog post from earlier this year. Clearly the media meme of the month is “won’t someone think of the children, and the imaginary innocence we ascribe to them in order to justify our lack of openness about basic anatomy because it’s ~icky~?”