ABC and Facebook Seem Like a Perfect Match to Me
The thing that’s hard about blogging, I’ve noticed thus far, is that I have to have a lot of opinions. If you knew me personally, you would feel amazed that I could possibly say that, but it’s one thing to constantly be mindlessly blurting out opinions to the offense of everyone around me; it’s entirely another to try to build one logically around each piece of daily news. That is why some weeks are better than other as far as blogging goes.
I do, however, have an opinion about this piece in today’s New York Times that ABC and Facebook are teaming to provide the social-networking site’s 56 million members with more interactive political coverage. While I am unsure that Facebook’s key demographic of persons 18-34 are particularly interested in politics, I think the fate of the country (am I being too dramatic?) perhaps hinges on getting this group involved.
As we all know, politics has become a nasty game that’s mostly fought in the PR trenches. Young people — who, as any good marketer has had to quickly learn, have well-developed high b.s. detectors – largely have turned off the process because they feel like it’s inauthentic and irrelevant to them. If this were 1973 (and there was a draft), perhaps college students would be in the streets protesting the war in Iraq, but today’s youth seem to mostly ignore what’s happening in Washington. They don’t feel like politicians listen to them or that they can make a difference, so why bother?
That’s why partnerships between politicians, news organizations and popular Web sites like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube make sense. (That’s also why it makes a lot of sense for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and the like to keep following John McCain’s lead and go see The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart — who has a hold on the educated young male demographic — the minute this writer’s strike ends.)
If news organizations can get young viewers to participate in the world around them through a medium they already like and trust, that will be progress. The Internet already has proved – through services like Napster, BitTorrent, YouTube and MySpace – to be media’s great democratizer. Why shouldn’t that process apply directly to politics, an area that, unlike media, desperately needs it? Watching online videos of skate-boarding dogs or piano-playing cats is great fun, but watching online video of news events or debates or campaign pit-stops allows everyone to participate in democracy, perhaps encouraging them to vote, go to work for their favorite candidate, sign a petition or two or even pick up the banner and go door-to-door.
Basically, I’m a fan of anything that improves the democratic process, and I can’t think of a better use of the Internet than to get more people involved in our government, flawed as it is.
By the way, I also have the opinion that I really don’t like Pink Floyd, which is what my favorite Internet radio station, Radio Paradise, was streaming as I wrote this.