Yes, please and thank you: Elections, ramen noodles, and bad manners
By the time you read this, our municipal election results will have finally been tallied – (No, honest! We mean it, this time! Hey, where are you going? Come back here!). A few candidates’ signs will have even been removed from intersections and road sides. Some will have been mulched by grass cutting equipment.
Many, however, will have been, um, appropriated and re-purposed by citizens — stapled to barn walls where snow used to blow in on the hen’s roosts, the kids’ bicycles and that paddle board you last used in 2004.
Here’s hoping the vitriol, anger, gossip and outright meanness that defined much of this election is also gone, making way for basic decency and politeness. It started with a baseless, accusatory “report” that carried all the heft of the directions found on a package of ramen noodles. It was also a “report” that most of its cynics sarcastically referred to by using quotation-bunny-ears.
Nowhere were the boorish and bad manners more evident than in social media where the repartee was anything but social. Candidates and campaign managers fired accusations at constituents and media. Constituents fired accusations at candidates, campaign managers and media.
The media rarely fired back, consumed with trying to figure out how to report on this on-line he-said-she-said hornet’s nest, with bare bone newsroom staffs that were otherwise occupied regaling themselves with war stories of when they worked in newsrooms with 1,400 reporters, typesetters, administrative assistants and envelope lickers, where every desk featured a built-in coffee maker and ashtray.
Virtual bystanders to these social media ping-pong games – (that game’s working title: “And Another Thing!”You’re welcome) –felt like they were witnessing two, three and sometimes 40 cats in a cardboard box fighting over the discarded lid of a tuna can. Occasionally, we non-participating virtual bystanders, seeking a diversion from the back-and-forth fury, might even return to the beginning of these strings-of-wrath to count the spelling errors.
Social Media Poster 1: Its not fare that these peoples are saying them things. WTF! There all idiuts.
Social Media Poster 2: I agree. Youze guyz better let em know. ROFL.
Social Media Poster 1: WFM I shoulda went yesterday and told them when I seen them at the candditates metting.
Social Media Poster 2: hey! Duz anyone outt theyre kno how to spel LOL?
That any of these participants would think their arguments would convert their on-line foes and end the smack talk is…gobsmacking.
Social Media Poster 1: Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about. YOU’RE WRONG. ALWAYS!
Social Media Poster 2: Upon closer reflection, I see your point and am now a convert to your ideals, which are fuelled and supported by your frequent use of all capital letters.
Poster 3: Whew. Glad you’ve come around. That was close. I was about to unleash a tirade of ugly gossip about you. See you at hockey tonight.
As the dust was finally settling on this election, the void of politeness was still felt. Even the company tasked with administering the election, and ultimately responsible for its last minute policy of “Hey, Good news! We’re, uh, staying open for extended hours!” couldn’t offer a straight-forward apology.
Instead, it shrouded its blunder in verbose PR speak that channelled the third grader who tells his teacher, “I regret that my ball slipped out of my hand and directed itself at the class window. But you should really consult the custodian who chose not to keep that window open.”
Really, a simple and sincere “sorry” would have been appreciated – minus the sarcastic quotation-bunny-ears.