Social Media

(The) Understanding Elites

By DOM Team| 4 Min Read | May 13, 2008

I’m empathizing with West Virginia today as the whole nation – nay the world – lumps the state into the ‘West Virginia doesn’t matter’ category or the ‘West Virginia doesn’t matter and they’re a bunch of redneck racists’ category.

He could only cling to his gun should it slip from his grasp and demolish his foot!

It’s the irony of the 24 hour media that any shade of gray has disappeared to be replaced by seeing everything in black or white.

I come from the North of England which is also decried by the learned elite as a racist backwater. In fact, we’re probably not even decried so much as written off and sniggered at. And they’re right – not to snigger but to identify certain areas as racist.

But I’ll tell you one thing – never trust a liberal elitist sneering at racist half-wits – they’ve never been able to move back to their safe suburban havens quick enough after spending their time larging it with the proletariat just to tick common people off in their life experience list and have tales of the working class to regale at dinner parties. It’s all too easy to demean the underclass for acting like savages after you’ve just locked them in the bowels of the Titantic so posh folk could use the lifeboats without breaking into a sweat. Those elitists have always known how to look after themselves.

Trust me, I’m not bitter, just a shade hunger grumpy.

As an outsider, this primary season has had me hooked. I’m loving every second of it. I obsess over every political tidbit and pour over every cable channel while surfing the Interwebs at the same time. Reading liveblog commentary as the results roll in as they discuss the latest bit of stupidity uttered by some bobblehead is fabulously entertaining.

However, I’ve yet to pick up a newspaper. I also only watch cable in conjunction with viewing everything online. If I had to pick one method of imbibing my Primary crack, the Internet would win hands down.

You see, the Internet is the shades of gray. It’s endless nuance and the comfort of your own choice of black or white. And it’s instantaneous and it’s smart. It can also be ponderous and as dumb as a stump. But the point is you get to choose when, what and how you consume it.

But this election is seeing all manner of Death Match battles to, well, y’know, the death.

We have baby boomers vs the Kiddies.

Old media vs new media.

Bottom up vs top down.

Grassroots politics vs machine politics.

At the heart of this new revolution is the Internet. The kiddies are the ones brought up on the Internet. New media has blogs, social networks and citizen journalists poking fun and pointing out the absurdities and lies spouted by the corporate media. Bottom up means this is a movement of the people energized partly online. Grassroots is the democratizing effect of the Internet allowing for the virtual spreading of messages unlike no other time via email and social networks. It’s the counter-elite – or democracy, if you will. No wonder the telcos are so desperate in their bid to end net neutrality.

Ten years ago Obama would not have got out of the starting blocks. He may even have struggled five years ago, but now his message rides on the crest of a new www. wave. Yes, the other candidates use the Internet, but it’s more because they have to than to embrace what it is truly capable of.

Trying to control the message online is as ridiculous as trying to catch the wind.

He may still fail in the long run as there is still quite a lot vested in the old ways of running things, but there will be more Obamas of all political stripes and their message will resonate even louder across the digital ether. And the consumption of digital media will increase as younger generations blossom and older generations wither.

The problems people are having at the moment are that they are trying to frame their reference by what has happened before. The thing is – nothing like this has happened before. I don’t need to have seen every election since time immemorial to have a hunch that the old guard has been caught off-guard and they’re scrambling about wondering what they can do.

Look at the incessant mis-reading of the polls. I promise you, Karl Rove will be nothing without reliable demographic data.

And the best thing I’ve read about the whole West Virginia is this heartfelt bit of user-generated content that had been linked to via the BBC website.

After all, nobody said the old and the new couldn’t be complimentary bedfellows.

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