ETEC 521, BC Politics and Cabbage Patch Dolls

During the 2014 BC Liberal campaign, in which the party shockingly upset what most people thought was going to be an NDP sweep, the returning party used social media and its “Digital Influencers” (a.k.a. trolls) to act as an “overseeing gaze” on the pulse of the province. The NDP was destroyed, and the BC Liberals had an overwhelming majority for their next mandate. Twitter trolls were easy to spot as their accounts were freshly made, they had very few followers, and hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tweets in a very short time.  Looking through their tweets, they were almost entirely negative towards anything resembling NDP affiliation. On the BC Liberal homepage, you could even apply to be a “Digital Influencer”!  (Does anyone remember last election’s Troll Truck, that followed prominent NDP campaigners around the Lower Mainland?) Knowing that this was the New World Order for BC politics, made me incredibly disenfranchised. To be fair, I would not be surprised to find out that the NDP is now taking some pages from this campaign. Sigh.

I use this as an example to illustrate my agreement with this week’s statement:

…that “the Internet provides indigenous peoples powerful new means of self-representation, but as its use expands and intensifies, so does the ‘overseeing gaze’ of encapsulating polities and transnational corporations.” (Prins, 2002)

It seems to me that with most, if not all, technologies, with affordances come grievances. The mid-eighties land treaty victory and federal recognition of the Mi’Kmaq tribe was due in part to the Prins documentary, “Our Lives in Our Hands”. Yet, public releases of sacred knowledge, puts that knowledge at risk of exploitation and appropriation. Reflecting on Michael’s last post, what makes the most sense to me is to resist the urge to look at situations like these through a binary lens.  Perhaps residing in the “third space” is where our best time can be spent.

The BC Liberals dominated social media’s cyberspace two elections ago.  Since much of an average citizen’s political discourse was now being shared on Facebook and Twitter, that is where the BC Lib’s strategically targeted their campaign efforts.  It was brilliant!!!  As soon as cyberspace is encroached upon, anybody and everybody can enter the conversation-slash-fighting arena. It makes your thoughts, your beliefs, your culture, vulnerable to attack. This is a very good thing if one is trying to win an election.

But does that mean that you should abstain from that space?

To each their own, however, I say no. Technology is evolving faster than technological-use rulebooks can keep up with. Late-night talk shows, viral videos and presidential Twitter accounts are swaying New World Order. Alternatively, and are making grassroots causes have nonnegligible traction leading to societal change.

Sometimes I feel like cyberspace is like trying to buy a Cabbage Patch Doll in the early 80s. Here was this fairly large doll, complete with a birth certificate, that parents lost their entire sense of civility over. The doll itself, was just a stuffed, and in my opinion, freaky looking toy. It is what humans did with that doll that needed some serious re-examination.

Hmmm… this is ringing some Module 1 bells.  Is the problem the technology or what people do with the technology???

Prins, Harald E.L., “Visual Media and the Primitivist Perplex: Colonial Fantasies, Indigenous Imagination, and Advocacy in North America,” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on a New Terrain, eds. Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. Berkeley:University of California Press, 2002, 58- 74.

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Filed under ETEC 521, Indigenous culture, Technology & culture

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