The thing that really amazes; and yes it really shouldn’t, is that all these people on all the social networking sites like Facebook or on micro-blogging services like Twitter seem to think that when someone like John Edwards wants to friend them that this is the real deal. Sure most will accept the fact that it is probably some staffer that has been tasked with communicating with those web folks.
This belief that political organizations like John Edwards, Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton are really interested in what the netizens of the Internet Society have to say beyond a campaign just because some staff proxy has friended them is ludicrous. This is no different for corporations who are more interested in the PR value than becoming truly involved with the Internet Society.
In a post this morning Stowe Boyd (well worth reading) calls out the Edwards campaign for their disappearing act now that Edwards is out of the race. While Stowe concedes that the Edwards profile on Twitter was most likely a staffer he feels that the Internet Society has been used for political gain and then kicked to the curb
So, you opt to try to exploit the edglings by signing up to Twitter, and writing a blog, and all that newfangled web stuff, trying to mine the potential there with ersatz involvement and cheesy, inauthentic participation: cramming old one:many messaging into a conversationally rich environment.
Then, you drop out. And proof that it is totally bogus, you just stop. Bam. No ‘thanks for the memories’, no ‘see you in the funny papers’, and certainly no ongoing involvement, since after all, there really was no involvement involved.
Proof of old politics wolf in new politics sheep’s clothing: they assume the ways of the new social web revolution as a means to come into contact with us, but when they lose (and maybe when they win, as well?) they drop the pretense of involvement, and go back to whatever they really believe in. Which is clearly not this new emerging whatever-the-hell-it-is on the web.
The only thing I can say to this is – did you really expect otherwise Stowe?
Granted you like to think you live is a world of good intentions where everyone can be your friend and you can change the world with a bunch of web technologies. The fact is the real world doesn’t work that way and no better example of this is the manipulation of the Internet Society by political organizations; and to a different degree the corporations. Politicians of all stripes are experienced back slapping baby kissing chameleons who will the help of guileless handlers use anything at their disposal to gain any and all advantages.
Stowe goes on to wonder
What will Barack and Hilary do if and when their time comes, I wonder?
I hate to break it to you Stowe but they will do exactly the same thing that the Edwards organization did. Once the campaign is over and the President is elected the contender Twitter and Facebook proxies will disappear from sight. Sure the new Prez might follow Britain’s lead and keep on pumping the spiel out via Twitter and the such but the fact is that it and all social networks are just another media, like newspapers and television, for them to manipulate.
While Stowe closed out his post with
But even if it was all shadowplay — a closet drama — I wanted a better ending. We deserved a better close to this chapter than that.
I would suggest that to have expected any different from politicians is totally unrealistic. It should also be a warning against our blind acceptance; or gullibility, of entities like politicians and corporations when they come knocking on the door to the Internet Society.