Saturday, February 12, 2011

fan the flame (please)

Successful politicking is like successful Facebooking and Twittering and Swine Fluing. Your idea has to go viral, or it goes nowhere.
For example:
A lonely Egyptian Facebooker posts something about his president being a bonehead and let's take a cue from Tunisia and get rid of him. The idea caught the attention of his countrymen like wildfire in a snowless spring, and eighteen days later, a thirty year dictatorship comes to an end.
A disgruntled musician complains to deaf ears about United breaking his guitar, then makes a trilogy of hilarious music videos about the ensuing customer service fiasco. In the process, he becomes a celebrity almost overnight.

A politician writes a motion in support of volunteer firefighters at the request of some small-time fire chiefs, and . . . and . . . I don't know the end of that story yet. I do know that if the idea is not supported by letters and emails from lots and lots of people, M-635 will be forgotten as quickly as it was created.

If the Egyptians and the world had said, "Ho-hum. Who cares about Mubarak?" Wael Ghonim would still be rotting in jail while Mubarak ate prime rib in his palace (or wherever Egyptian presidents live). But they didn't say ho-hum. They passed the word.

If Dave Carroll had only pounded on the private doors of United Airline Customer Service, he would have been ignored in spite of the rightness of his grievance. But he put his frustration to creative use and the world took notice. It got our attention because we've all had similar experiences. We might not have cared about his broken guitar, but we liked his videos. And maybe United will be more careful with their customer service.

Here's where I'm supposed to tell you to forward the M-635 link to every person you know, and ask them to send it to all their friends, and friends friends, and their friends' pets, and their pets' fleas . . . and ask all of them to write their MP's in support of the motion. And if you don't, it's obvious that you hate volunteer firefighters, your country, your province, your community, and your mother. On top of that, you'll have bad luck for seven years. And don't forget that my brother's cousin's sister's nephew forwarded this page to all of his Facebook friends and he became an instant millionaire when a long lost uncle returned from the South Seas, keeled over dead, and left his vast fortune.

And we can all sit down for some pie-in-the-sky.

What was my point again? Ah yes. The only way that the Motion to Assist Volunteer Firefighters will have any positive effect is if a large number of Canadians make it have an effect. We won't have bad luck for seven years if we don't, and our long-lost uncles might not reappear if we do, but our volunteer fire departments might get some help down the road if it passes.

There is no way to coerce the world into taking this idea and spreading it like wildfire in a snowless spring (I just had to use that simile again). I don't expect the cities of Canada to break out in chaos all, "Support our volunteer firefighters, or suffer the wrath of the people." The 80% of our population that lives in cities isn't going to get on the bandwagon of the 20% that live in the boonies.

M-635 may not go viral, but at least it's a tiny pin prick of light on a dark horizon. Let's fan the flame.

1 comment:

  1. Good point in changing my "about me" on my blog - thanks for pointing that out! I never would have thought to change it. Exciting times!


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