Social Media Matters: Did Facebook rants cause election losses?

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, May 18, 2012
Metro section

Did Facebook rants cause election losses?

Municipal elections were held in New Brunswick earlier this week. I followed many of the online comments written by various non-incumbent candidates on Facebook, especially the comments of those running in Moncton.

Regardless of an issue, public discourse should remain courteous. Yes, things can get heated at times, however on a few issues, it seemed that conversations got heated, with finger-pointing and insults. Everyone’s welcome to their opinion, but I have to point out – at least from my observations – that none of the candidates who went negative on Facebook got elected. Every one of them went down to defeat.

And you know what? I’m sure most of them were shocked that they lost. But let’s get a reality check here: While it’s true that you have the right to say whatever you want online (as long as it’s not legally defamatory, etc.), people also have the right to react. And if your Facebook privacy settings are not set properly or you’re saying negative and insulting things in a public online forum, that message can go out to thousands upon thousands of people at lightning speed. People can copy and paste, forward, print, etc.

Quite frankly, I read comments that are fine if shared in private between two people, but to post such negative language in an accusatory tone in a public forum? Some candidates came across as perpetually angry, bitter and unpleasant. Voters who read these comments aimed at people the candidates disagreed with could only come to one conclusion: If he’s talking that way to ‘Bob’ or ‘Mary’, he’ll likely talk that way to me, too.

Most people would rather avoid that scenario, so they voted for others. And that’s exactly what happened. On election night, I watched closely how certain comment-prolific non-incumbent candidates were doing – and each and every one of them lost.

Just because you think you’re preaching to the converted doesn’t mean others can’t see your comments, too. They may even agree with your cause, but they may disagree with the tone. In the end, they want someone who’ll listen, not yell and insult. If you’re a candidate who’s doing that to others online, then people will assume you’ll do it to them, too, either online or in person.

While a bit of careful well-placed passion has its place online, people are also looking for vision – and they’re watching how you react to your opponents.

If you treat them with constant anger, people can only come to one conclusion: You’re always angry and most likely quite unpleasant. It may not be true, mind you, but your online persona is the only way they know you.

Just some food for thought for when the next elections roll around, but a little politeness in debates goes a long way.

Viral YouTube video raises safety concerns

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet lately – especially Facebook – you’ve probably noticed a viral YouTube video called ‘How To Wake Up A Kid,’ where a three-year-old boy asleep in the car is seen waking up to music by Nirvana. Instead of being annoyed, he wakes up happily while playing air drums.

Some have pointed out, however, that his seatbelt is in the wrong position and could pose a serious hazard in case of an accident. The seatbelt is shown in the video to be placed across his neck instead of his chest and shoulder. This is certainly something I would never have noticed, but it’s definitely a good thing that the improperly adjusted seatbelt issue was brought up – even if the video was meant to be ‘cute.’

This week’s featured You-Tube channels

Each week, I suggest three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to May 15. Have a favourite channel? Let me know about it and I may feature it here!

1) Jenna Marbles (3,015,319 subscribers) : I’m not sure how I never heard of his very popular blogger. With more than three million subscribers and 520 million channel views, Jenna Marbles (real name: Jeanna Mourey) is certainly one of the most popular YouTube personalities around. She posts a rant every Wednesday on a particular subject, often about men or insights on women. Each video routinely gets around five million views within a week or two. Warning: Her rants are laced with profanity and definitely not kid-friendly or work-friendly. (Most popular video: How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking – 40,483,499 views.)

2) The Chopra Well (2,723 subscribers) : This is the official YouTube channel for public speaker and writer Deepak Chopra who focuses on mind-body connections. Having just started about four months ago, this is a relatively new channel so is just starting out with only 10 videos and under 3,000 subscribers. (Most popular video: Decoding Deepak – 420,026 views.)

3) Clutter Diet (2,550 subscribers) : This YouTube channel is a companion to the book The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life by Lorie Marrero and its website. Here, you’ll find nearly 90 videos hosted by Marrero on the issue of clutter and getting organized, including tips on how to take control of your ‘stuff.’ (Most popular video: Free Wallet Reminder Sleeves – Prevent Clutter & Save Money! – 30,772 views.)

One Response to Social Media Matters: Did Facebook rants cause election losses?

  1. > I watched closely how certain comment-prolific non-incumbent candidates were doing – and each and every one of them lost.

    In general, non-incumbents lost whether or not they were on Facebook. So I think that their non-incumbency was the greater factor than their Facebook manners.

    In races where a seat was open to a non-incumbent, my observation is that the candidates with the largest external networks won. In Councillor-at-large, for example, Dawn Arnold was bolstered by her network from the Frye Festival, a proven formula.

    So, without greater specificity, I would be inclined to disagree with your argument here.