Monthly Archives: October 2015

Monitory Democracy or Monetary Idiocracy? Up to Us

Social Media Code of Intelligence and Responsibility
I pledge not to be a dumbass, and promise not to encourage others to be dumbasses by posting, liking or sharing unsubstantiated, sensationalist, slanted bullshit on social media. I will do my part to revive human intelligence through promoting information integrity, starting with cross-checking for validity before I perpetuate information.

Wouldn’t it be nice if “Social Media Intelligence and Responsibility” wasn’t an oxymoron?

In his book: ‘The Life and Death of Democracy’ John Keane proposes we have entered a new phase of democracy. “….for a variety of reasons related to public pressure and the need to reduce corruption and the abuse of power, representative forms of democracy are coming to be supplemented…by a variety of democratic procedures that are applied to organisations underneath and beyond states. Citizens’ assemblies, forums, summits, parliaments for minorities, judicial review and citizens’ juries…public integrity mechanisms, congresses, blogging and other new forms of media scrutiny….”

Keane calls this new phase monitory democracy….“the public accountability and public control of decision makers….assembly-based and representative mechanisms are mixed and combined with new ways of publicly monitoring and controlling the exercise of power.”

In other words, it’s up to us to watchdog the powers that be. In the workplace, monitory democracy is called participative management: the rank and file has an enhanced level of input in company decisions. For elected officials, the ultimate test is keeping their office. For a company it’s customers continuing to buy. For managers, it’s keeping their people, and keeping them productive. Employees have a vote too: should I stay or should I go? And, what level of discretionary effort should I exert?

From a private exchange with psychologist / change agent Robin Grill, co-author of the Children’s Well-being Manifesto and author of: ‘Parenting for a Peaceful World’:
“We monitor big brother now, not the other way around. In this new reality, we are the government, the inspectors, the police. It is up to us – but that is only true if we step up and stop watching TV.
     There is an urgent need for people to realize we have a lot of power. Opinion is power. Sharing is power. Consumption and choice is power. Every dollar has power. We are hugely powerful. The word ‘we’ is the key.”

Just One Minor Caveat…
Monitory democracy calls for those who monitor to be highly involved and well-informed. Where do we get our information? Are our sources reliable, unbiased, trustworthy, timely? If you said “yes” you’re nibbling on The Big Lie. There are abundant issues to address around journalistic integrity. And the proliferation of junk information via the internet has grossly confounded things. Grossly.

The current US campaign / election circus (sorry….”cycle”) is the first time social media has played a real role, and its influence is staggering. A TweetMaster / reality show star (and, just my uninformed opinion…a pompous bully) is one party’s front-runner in spite of not yet offering much policy of substance.

Who needs substance? Just entertain me!

Everyday people pounce on clever memes and pretty much anything posted on the internet. LikeLikeLikeLike, ShareShareShareShare. Asinine, obviously false or at minimum incredibly far-fetched bullshit floods cyberspace. A quagmire of spin-doctored, outlandish comments and claims that are often nothing more than poorly designed, cheesy propaganda. And we fall for it.

Man, have I got a deal on a bridge for you!

Elementary-level school kids are taught the fine art of assessing the reliability of their sources.

  • “.org” “.edu” and “.gov” are a tad more trustworthy than a regular dot com that anyone, any “organization” can be behind. Look at the url.
  • Look at the “About” section for hints that a site is obviously partisan: who is behind the source?
  • Above all, use a little common sense in weighing the validity of a story’s sources.

Why do so many big kids have so much trouble getting it? It’s really not that tough. But then again….

True Confession
Keane is right, Robin Grill is right. WE have power, WE are the watchdogs. But sound information is what we need to be empowered as effective change agents / activists. I’ll admit I’m clueless where to go for real, trustworthy “just the facts, ma’am” information. And I strive mightily to be well-informed. Those who run with any old piece of information scare me. A lot.

Information is useless until it is intelligently assessed before it’s used. Then it becomes power. “Good” or “bad” power depends a good deal on whether it is good or bad information. I think we’re up a creek.

Any fix-its, anyone?