Since the onset of COVID-19, I’ve had more time to indulge in social media. By “indulge,” I mean doomscrolling about anti-vaxxers, environmental collapse, and the still-darkening legacy of residential schools. I’m no different from others. According to a study in the U.S., social media consumption rose to 82 minutes a day in 2020, up from 75 the year before — with many folks refreshing their screens to find case-count statistics. I’m guessing we’re online more for lack of better options.
With an election in Canada, I spent a day looking warily at the social-media campaigns of our political parties. In past elections, we saw Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Facebook as a selfie-Jedi, materializing before any camera poised to click, and New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh mug on TikTok. I wanted to know how, if at all, social media has changed in the pandemic era.
Political parties usually dramatize an election as an existential struggle. But can they raise the stakes when many Canadians literally fear for their lives when they go buy groceries or breathe? As I follow the campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok, I want content that’s realistic but doesn’t prompt me to cower in terror. I want the promise of normalcy — no, of decency.
To my dismay, my election timeline is already fouled with slung mud. Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland has a “manipulated media” label affixed to a Twitter video. A Conservative attack ad, in which Trudeau’s head is superimposed on a clip from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, was removed for copyright infringement. It was also sophomoric and weirdly dated. And I say this as a university prof who plays Ferris Bueller clips in his lectures.
Before I started, my working hypothesis was that Trudeau had the right combination of winning smiles, smiling cynicism, and shameless opportunism to carry the Liberals to a majority. In B.C., where I live, it worked for John Horgan’s NDP in 2020, as it broke a pledge with the Green Party to hold off on an election for another year, and took advantage of an electorate’s natural inclination not to change governments in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime crisis (dear lord, I hope) to scoop up a majority.
Surely, Trudeau would maintain his sunny ways, smizing in his Liberal Party of Canada-branded facemask? But in week two of the campaign, with Liberals’ losing their lead on the Conservative Party of Canada, Trudeau goes on the offence. On the Liberals’ Twitter page, in between big-ticket promises like subsidized daycare and another national housing plan, one finds a video, attacking Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s support of private healthcare options. The strain shows in this whipped-up clip, filmed in a bus parked outside a rich person’s house. It’s like someone handed Trudeau an iPhone and said, “Quick! Say something about Erin O’Toole that will make oldsters panic!”
After decrying the election as a Liberal power grab, the Conservatives have wisely tacked away from whining as its primary campaign tactic, and toward true-blue themes like fiscal probity. In one video, leader Erin O’Toole engages Canadian seniors in a discussion about securing their retirements. O’Toole’s reassuring delivery and anti-corporate message (um, which party is on the right?) is undercut by the video’s shabby look. Is the stock video footage of a change jar filing up supposed to represent a pension or the panhandling that old folks will do to make up for declining CPP payouts? Also, we don’t use pennies anymore.
Of my own criteria for social-media comfort food, only the leaders of Canada’s smaller parties deliver. Annamie Paul looks stately and confident in a Facebook video that rebrands the Green Party as one of diversity. Somehow she advocates for climate action while not invoking the image of our world burning to a cinder. In the Bloc Quebecois campaign video, leader Yves Francois Blanchot touts Quebecois exceptionalism with a rocking pocket square.
And while the People’s Party of Canada scares me personally, the noxiousness of their Donald Trump-style nativist rhetoric is offset by their small grip on the electorate and truly goofy social media. The party posts “help wanted” ads for candidates in eight ridings, while one candidate, Vahid Seyfaie, Photoshopped his face on an image of Prince William.
I’m saving the best for last, though, as Jagmeet Singh’s videos for the NDP still amuse and delight. Singh’s TikToks, set to jaunty music, with minimalist Dad-style dancing, connect the way selfies once did for Trudeau:
Of course, Singh brought his TikTok game to the 2019 election and still his party lost ground. Singh speaks to me as a racialized Canadian and his calls to cap cellphone fees are like a Spotify playlist to his youthful supporters, but he still needs to convince older voters that he can form a government or influence any government formed by Trudeau and the surprisingly pinkish O’Toole. Watch the following video, with Singh’s bedroom eyes and his understated finger pointing to cool music I’m too old to know, and imagine if the message above it read something like, “Tell your parents you’ll go to law school if they vote NDP!!”
I finished my 24 hours of election doomscrolling feeling oddly reassured. The politicking may be a notch muted, given 18 months of uncertainty and fear, but our politicians remain steadfastly bland and on-message. It’s early in the election campaign, and things might change, but let’s hope they don’t. I’ve had my fill of “interesting” for the year.
Kevin Chong is an author and Creative Writing professor at UBC Okanagan.
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week – Summerland Review – Summerland Review
Good afternoon and happy Friday!
Before you start off your weekend full of sunshine, cooler weather and pumpkin patch adventures, catch up on some of this week’s news headlines from the Okanagan-Shuswap region.
Kelowna RCMP launched an investigation after the body of a woman was found at Highway 33 and Nickel Road in the city.
Police said they don’t have much information surrounding the woman’s death or the cause of it, but the investigation is ongoing.
Fundraisers have been set up for a Penticton murder victim’s family.
Taig Savage’s mother, Tracey, previously lost two other children in a house fire. The goal of the fundraisers is to support her as she goes through losing a child in a tragic way for the third time.
One person died and another person was taken into police custody after a morning shooting in Vernon on Monday (Sept. 20).
Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said the victim and the man in custody are known to each other. As he is still in custody, police said there is no further threat to public safety.
Boaters have been asking the City of Salmon Arm to dredge the channel that leads into Shuswap Lake, but the mayor and his staff say that the high costs and government requirements to dredge are keeping them from doing it.
Staff added that dredging is a temporary solution and has a short life span.
And that’s all for this week. Have yourself a good and safe weekend.
Media Day hype, player rankings are clickbait | Pickaxe and Roll – Denver Stiffs
Ryan Blackburn shares his thoughts on the third day of player interviews for media week that included Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Michael Porter Jr. in a stacked session. Gordon was chill, Barton was excited, Green was professional, Rivers was insightful, and Porter showed readiness to take the leap. Then, Ryan discusses the ESPN player rankings that are filtering out and what they had to say about the Nuggets and Nikola Jokić.
Hashtag Trending September 24 – European Commission Mandates USB-C; Social Media Platforms Sue Texas; Fedex’s Autonomous Delivery – IT World Canada
The European Commission hopes to mandate USB-C on smartphones, Texas is being sued over a new law for social media platforms, and FedEx completes its first fully autonomous vehicle delivery.
It’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Friday, September 24, and I’m your host, Jori Negin-Shecter.
The European Commission has announced plans to mandate a USB-C charging port on smartphones and other electronics. The goal is to reduce the number of chargers users need to buy, thus reducing electronic waste. Although it isn’t directly targeted at Apple, the mandate will affect the company the most. Apple still uses its own Lighting connector for its flagship smartphones, including their recently announced iPhone 13 series. As more laptops and smartphones switch to USB-C, calls for Apple to drop the Lightning port have grown as well. Notably, the Commission’s plan only targets wired charging, meaning the requirement does not apply to a device that exclusively uses wireless charging.
Texas is being sued by groups representing Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter over a new bill that would prevent these platforms from banning users based on their political views. The law, called House Bill 20, bars social media platforms with over 50 million monthly users in the U.S. from banning users for their viewpoints. Additionally, the law also requires social media companies to file a public suspension report biannually. The reports must detail content removal and account suspensions. Supporters say the goal of the bill is to increase transparency and ensure that users are treated fairly. Despite this, the lawsuit claims that the government cannot force the social media platforms to host content that goes against their terms of service. A law of similar nature that sought to deplatform politicians for their viewpoints was struck down this past June in Florida.
Finally, FedEx has announced that it completed its first delivery run using an autonomous truck. The route stretched 500 miles round trip between Houston and Dallas. The success of the trip signals that the delivery company in Texas will begin using more autonomous vehicles in the not so distant future. The truck, which was developed by truck maker PACCAR and autonomous driving company Aurora, uses LiDAR, radar and various other sensors to drive safely on highways. [Business Insider]
That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire Newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Friday at 3 pm. If you have a suggestion or tip, please drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thanks for listening, I’m Jori Negin-Shecter.
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week – Summerland Review – Summerland Review
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