Wednesday, 1 October 2014

#The45Plus Culture: A Week is a Long Time for a Yes Supporter


Culture matters! It was the culture that was established by the Yes Alliance that got me interested in the potential of the independence referendum. 

The culture and conditions were not dissimilar to some of the most innovative tech companies in the world. We have seen the potential with this as people are more energised and active with politics. 

However the culture has changed. Is this having an impact on the potential results that could be achieved? Discuss...

Two Weeks is a Long Time in Social Media Politics

Politics Then:Two weeks ago everyone in the Scotland was talking about politics: online, offline, at work, at home, at school, on the way to and from home and work. And rightly so, the referendum was a decision that would affect people's future.

Politics Now: Today the decision of voting "No" has affected these same people as promises made are not being kept. There are even some reports to suggest that there were irregularities with the election. However... 

How many people are talking about the "Broken Vow" or election irregularities? 
Are the buses & coffee shops full of chatter about these issues today?

Nope. Is there an outcry in the media? Not to the extent that you'd expect. What about Social Media...

Social Media Then:  The #IndyRef hashtag was used by both camps along with #VoteYes and #VoteNo or some other tag to differentiate which tribe you hailed from. 

After the election #The45Plus was the water cooler hashtag where #voteyes people congregated to continue the discussion. In the first week of being established everyone was talking about it. 

The impact of this was not just idle chatter... membership to join the SNP and other Yes Alliance parties soared (SNP is now 75,000 strong).

Social Media Now: With the voice of 1.6million on #The45Plus surely they can raise the alarm and get people talking about this broken promise, right? Indeed they can use this as an opportunity to get the remaining #VoteNo people who have not yet joined #The45Plus chat to put even more pressure on, right? After all, this is now 4 million people who voted and have been let down. OK, great... Lets go!

Hang on a minute, not so fast... as well as having broken vows we also have;

A Broken Culture
'VoteYes Culture: In my opinion the thing that made the #Voteyes campaign such a success has been badly compromised. Before the referendum there was unity and a sense of purpose. A shared identity and a common goal.

Flying under the banner of Vote Yes were people with views across the political spectrum and from all areas of society. The only similarity with some of the people that I saw was they wanted Scotland to be independent. This was the miracle of George Square... There were so many people from different backgrounds sharing this space harmoniously. 

#The45Plus Culture: The culture of #The45Plus is nowhere near what the atmosphere was online or offline. The #IndyRef #Voteyes discussions were hilarious, I probably spent 2 hours a day checking the Tweets as they were so funny. I went into town as often as possible because of the positive atmosphere and diversity.

Today the Tweets are so negative and militant that I think that the term "CyberNat" is not entirely unwarrented by detractors of what's going on (Regardless of who the detractors are, whether MPs from opposing camps, unionists or impartial observers). 

I left the recent Glasgow skeptics meeting after 10 minutes because it was anything but the positive and welcoming atmosphere I had enjoyed prior to the election! In fact I left the meeting wondering "Is this the kind of atmosphere that was at the Nuremberg Rallies?" And that's coming from someone who voted Yes and is a supporter of #The45Plus!!

Unity, Harmony and Optimism Required
Now I know this is not who the Scottish people who voted Yes are, regardless of differences, background or how angry we are etc. The whole world knows this because of the positivity of #VoteYes. Today it looks more like the negativity and scaremongering of Alistair Darling's and Gordon Brown's #NoThanks message. 

This is perhaps understandable given what's happened since the referendum or because of the many different views, opinions and experiences that 1.6 million people have. We're angry and up against it.

However, just as I don't here people talking about politics everywhere in the streets like 2 weeks ago, neither have I seen the murder rate increase to the extent that you might when reading #The45Plus twitter stream. It's just that the culture needs a little more care and attention.

However we are feeling, I don't think we are in any worse a position than Earnest Shackleton or the diverse views and opinions he had to deal with when faced with keeping the spirits of 28 people trapped in Antarctica for 2 years with their ship crushed in the ice;

Shackleton is also a great study in optimism... he never gave the slightest sign, no matter how bad things got, that the crew wasn't going to survive.

"A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground" 

"Shackleton's leadership style was formed when working under people like Scott and vowing not to treat men they way he and his crew mates were treated. What he hated most about these jobs were pettiness, irresponsible bosses, insufferable working conditions and a lack of trust and respect among crew members. In the early expeditions which he led he learned that leadership that was rigid, remote, undemocratic, and uncertain didn't work. On the Endurance he focused on the one thing that that gave the best chance at reaching their goals: Unity" Ernest Shackleton

I think this is an example worth following. We've seen the benefits that a shared identity and sense of purpose has had in the run up to the referendum. The question is... can we get this back? Can we re-establish the Network Effects and Positive Feedback Loops... The Two Must have ingredients for #The45Plus?

In order for this to happen a concerted effort with establishing the right culture would be required, including some shared values/guidelines and a goal... a noble cause to work towards. 

I will be writing a few posts that people may want to consider in an attempt to reestablish this culture, so more posts on this to follow. Oh and by the way... 

Vote Yes if your a Weirdo?
The consequences if we can't change the tone of the discussion? Here's how the media will portray the group:
Conspiracy and paranoia reign in the grassroots Scottish independence movement 
"But the mood of these Yes supporters is still deeply problematic for the wider independence cause. If this eclectic bunch is seen as being the only people who bother to keep the independence flame alive, it will put those lacking their penchant for conspiracy off. Floating voters viewing Yes campaigners as weirdoes to be avoided at all costs would be a disaster for the Scottish independence movement"

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