2019 is an election year, but for those who have better things to do than follow politics on a daily basis, we need to have a little chat.
If you are on social media and interested in politics, you know the Coalition has done bugger all. You know they have more than doubled our debt, you know they are skipping school and only working about six days in the next six months. You know pretty much everything former PM Tony Abbott, former PM Malcolm Turnbull and interim PM Scott Morrison has announced over this period of Coalition Government was pretty much full of shite, spun so badly we got dizzy.
The problem is, those who don’t spend their time on social media, do not know.
Joe and Jill at home have either paid no attention to the state of politics, because they are too busy just paying the bills, getting the kids fed, holding on to their jobs – in the case of Jill, probably two part-time/casual jobs – hoping they can keep a roof over their heads and if lucky, save up enough spare cash to take the kids to a theme park next holidays.
If they notice any politics, it will be only from the snippets in the nightly news, the short headline on the radio as they wait in the traffic on the endless commute to work, or the “headline” that flies by as they cruise social media.
There was an interesting article by Matt Wade in the Canberra Times just recently, “The uncomfortable truth about voters’ perception versus reality”, about the Perils of Perception survey, and to cut a long story short, I will quote him:
On the whole, we’re poorly informed about our biggest national challenges and hottest political debates.
The piece laments that voters really have no idea as to the “facts” on big policies like immigration and climate change and how our perceptions are a long way from reality:
Ipsos researchers have noticed that public perceptions are often most inaccurate on topics that are being widely discussed in the media, and on issues that are of concern to us.
Sadly, the vast majority of media, to quote Julia Gillard, “write crap”. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few really good stand-outs in various media publications, but unfortunately most of those are not mainstream, or if they are employed by the traditional media, they are not the ones whose front pages you see on the morning infotainment shows, and they are not the ones from whom the nightly 6 o’clock news take their cues.
Instead, we see an endless regurgitation of Government “talking points”, which often bear no reality to what may actually have happened in Government or Senate that day. Worse, we are seeing this government, in particular, trying to emulate Donald Trump, pulling on his big boy pants full of lies and knowing that whatever the hell they say will be reported verbatim, without context, without fact-checking.
Case in point: “Our record on women exceeds Labor’s: Lib MPs”:
— John (@John_Hanna) 1 January 2019
Yes, they actually said that. The headline says so, included with the lovely relaxed shot of Sarah Henderson MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services. It is in the newspaper so it must be true.
Yes, we know that the Liberals have a shocking statistic when it comes to recruiting female MPs – and if rumours are correct, treat them in a shoddy manner. Yes, we know they don’t do squat for women’s issues*, but that front page, with likeable Sarah saying we don’t have a woman problem:
- was mentioned on nearly every single morning breakfast infotainment show (generally with no context);
- was mentioned on the nightly news (again with next to no context);
- flew through Twitter and Facebook shares (even if was someone mocking, the punter won’t see the mocking, just the headline, blurb and photo).
This all adds up to a hell of a lot of eyeballs not reading the actual piece, not “thinking” about the context of the piece, probably not even being aware of the fact it is utter shite and just because an MP announces something Trump-like doesn’t make it true. All those eyeballs instead got was: “relax, there is no woman problem, I’m a lady MP and I would know”.
If I say white is black long enough maybe people will believe it. More Liberal female MPs tell us how great their party is for women. Incidentally like yesterday’s chief spinner today’s likely won’t have a seat after the next election: https://t.co/0NwHLOOAm1 @australian #auspol
— Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP) 2 January 2019
This is only one example. We see many more with the same formula: photo matching headline to give a vibe of “scary terrorism”, “likeable Scooter eating a pie”, “rising black youth in the suburbs”, etc. Joe and Jill in most cases are not reading the pieces, they are just getting the “vibe”.
Yes, I need to get a life – I know most of those headlines are government talking points that often bear no resemblance to reality, or in fact are not even issues of importance to voters, but they are spun to the max to make you think they are the big issues that need to be front and centre. This will be the “vibe”!
When Joe and Jill go into the voting booth, they will not be assessing the various policies to make a decision on who to vote for. They will have this mish mash of pictures and headlines sitting vaguely in the back of their brains and most likely make their decision based on that.
Also on The Big Smoke
- NSW Labor says “maybe” to pill testing, pending election win
- When your election campaign fizzles, rub some gun paranoia on it
This upcoming election will be important. Whatever your main reasons for punting Scooter and his questionable cohort, I urge you to consider what I have said above.
Use the information you “know” to politely and calmly educate those around you. Don’t berate or talk down to people, as that only alienates them – no-one likes to be spoken down to or made to feel stupid.
Talk to others about reality. For example, if at the barbecue someone raises “Muslim terrorism”, don’t disparage them, give them an example of something to truly be afraid of, e.g.; “Yeah… I know papers and government like to flog terrorism, but, not really an issue herein…but did you see we had a record number of deaths on the highways this holiday season? Those poor families. Geez, Joe, with the amount of time you and Jill spend on that highway, don’t you worry? Government keep saying they will fix, but have done nothing yet!” – subtle, I know, but believe me, it works.
Only by combatting the “vibe” out in the real world will we help all of us make more informed voter choices.
Beware the vibe.