Michaels: ‘The twits tweeting’ aren’t saying as much as they used to

Here are some questions I'd like help answering, because I'm having no luck getting to the bottom of them on my own.

Here are some questions I’d like help answering, because I’m having no luck getting to the bottom of them on my own.

First, why do toddlers appear as though they’re ready for sleep, only to pop up like a whac-a-mole with a speed addiction?

Why has, until this week, that stretch of highway feeding into the Bennett Bridge been under a restrictive construction-zone, speed limit during peak commuter hours when there were never any construction workers to be seen?

And, why do people still take social media so seriously?

This last question may actually be the most pressing, as it’s been election season both locally and, on a larger scale, across the border.

It means it’s time to be told yet again that Tweeting is something we’re supposed to pay attention to if we want to know what’s what. Tuesday night’s US election coverage was dominated by storylines drummed up from Twitter and Facebook, which has pretty much been the norm since 2008, when social media rocked the vote.

During that election online campaigns at least galvanized the previously disenfranchised youth and provided a platform to share campaign news and political views.

It was one of those pivotal moments in political history, and tuning into those channels made you feel like you were getting the low-down on how people really felt. In turn, pixels came to life with a tremendous swell in voter turnout.

These days, however, I’m not as sold on what the likes of Twitter and Facebook have to offer, especially when it comes to politics.

Cementing my view was one US news outlet’s coverage of the role social media played in the election. It was “pivotal” they said. Then they showed  Tweets from candidates with banal comments like, “It was a good campaign. Thanks for your support.”

It was such a numbingly dull comment that I actually resented the five seconds it took to read, and I wasn’t surprised to hear that voter turnout was half of what it was during the 2008 election.

But that’s them. What about us?

There’s a push to go full throttle on social media for the local election and, all in all, it’s made me finally understand the words my stereotypically curmudgeonly dad utters every time the topic comes up: “Who cares about what twits are tweeting on the Twitter?”

It’s commentary I used to argue vehemently against.

“The Twitter,” I used to tell him, is all about  letting more people get their messages across. It’s about free speech and open communication.

I’m sure that part of it is still there, but it’s hard to find the meaningful tidbits while wading through the sheer volume of meaninglessness.

A precursory scan of the hashtag #Kelownavotes, for example, tells me that one candidate is big on thanking media organizations, a few are quite photogenic and all are  having love-ins with so many community/business groups that it’s dizzying.

Others are using it to pump out campaign rhetoric that newspapers won’t touch due to time, space and good judgment.

That said, I don’t think many of the candidates angling for a seat on council or the school board are “twits tweeting.”

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that with the exception of a few, these are capable people who care about their community and have the desire and ability to give it their all.

It’s almost inspiring for a cubicle dweller like myself, but I didn’t learn that from Twitter. I learned that from seeing them in person. Listening to them speak about what matters to them and how they envision the future of this city.

And part of my impression of them came from looking at how they hold themselves. The tenor of their speech and if anything could be heard in the space between their words.

You know, all the things that make them human.

The intangible things that no social media can replicate.

So, as this last stretch before Nov. 15 goes ahead, I urge you to leave your house and speak to these people. Or, if they show up at your door for some traditional pre-election canvassing, ask them some questions.

If you have time, squeeze in a couple for me. In particular, what should I do about the toddler and what was up with that construction zone?

Kelowna Capital News

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