Baristanet: Cory Booker, Twitter God
Pundits have made much of Cory Booker’s Twitter presence, with some praising his prolific use of the social media site, and others questioning whether the act is pure self-promotion.
Regardless, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by an exchange he had with an angry constituent on Twitter.
I also watched as the mayor coaxed a resident from anger to action over the course of a few tweets and had some observations.
First, Baristanet blogger Christina Gillham asks whether the mayor is using the service as self-promotion or civic engagement. I don’t think that’s an either-or question. Politicians, by nature of their work, are going to be promoted by their civic engagement. Replace “Twitter” with “a press conference” or “community meeting” and the question becomes absurd—the answer is: both.
This level of engagement does make constituents feel as though their voices are being heard—apparent from the complimentary retweets the mayor shares. I’ve had similar experience reaching out to the mayor about issues in the city. He’s responded back cordially and quickly, and it felt good knowing someone was hearing my concerns and taking action.
Most interesting, though, is how the mayor is able to take the internet’s proclivity to complain and turn it into meaningful action.
Anonymity and instant publication are a toxic combination on the web, often the cause of vitriolic debate between otherwise sensible people. But, if this skill of Mayor Booker’s to turn the worst aspect of the Internet into good can be scaled up to motivate thousands, that could have a transformative effect on society. Taking the broken things in in the world and redeeming them is, after all, a rather God-like quality.
If this is the plan for #waywire, then I am much more interested. The world already has social media sites and news aggregators, but one that can create societal good? Now, that would be something.