Image Credit: Chatham House
There are few times that I have heard the words ‘Boris Johnson’ uttered as much as I have done over the past week in the Nouse office. James Reston, the famous American journalist, once said: “if it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home it’s sociology.” From some of the conversations I’ve had, this certainly appears to be true.The one conversation that particularly makes me think of this quote is whether or not sending out a genuinely bad election video but on purpose is a genius idea or a miscalculated mistake.
I just have to say the words Boris Johnson and there’s a good chance you’ll end up thinking about one of his ‘bad’ videos that have gone viral, whether that’s his low budget morning coffee in the car video, his oven-ready bang it in the microwave saying, which really makes one wonder whether the man actually knows how a microwave works, or his recent and extremely bizarre tour around CCHQ. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, they’re all full of low quality GIFs and memes about the upcoming general election and the different parties and candidates. Again, some of these are not great. They are purposefully simplistic, shareably laughable. These two points raise the question, how much does good, honest, explanatory content really matter? And this is what got me thinking about sociology.
While we may see this wave of cringe worthy videos, bad memes and famous GIFS,and say well, it doesn’t affect me, can we really know this for sure? And even if we disagree and we do our angry reacts and our negative comments in response to the said post, that merely makes the online post travel further.And while most of the people on your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram may agree with your view, you are still increasing the exposure of that post. Maybe eventually it will find its way to someone who does agree with the message hidden behind the poor quality. Is online campaigning not so much a competition of content as it is a competition of noise and how much wave length we can fill? Ironically, if you agree with that view then by writing this column I am doing exactly what some clever social media manipulator wants me to do. I am talking about those bad videos, GIFs and memes,and (hopefully, or else I’ve completely failed to connect with you) making you think about the terrible or odd ones you’ve seen.
And, as we listen to Brenda, the iconic lady from Bristol who none of us have actually met, spreading her message round the internet of “not another one”, I’m feeling really optimistic. I’m feeling optimistic about us as voters and us as an age demographic. Turn-out in the 2017 general election was at a 16 year high. More 18-25 year olds are registering to vote (you have until 26 November) and it feels to me that we are a generation which,rather than finding politics uncool, we find abstention uncool. We as students are ready to use our vote to give ourselves a voice, and that’s what I hope you do, I hope you vote.When it comes to turnout I don’t even care how you vote, just that you do.After all, how can we share our “okay boomer” memes if we make boomers a more important demographic to please electorally than us?