2012 – The year of substance (or lack thereof)
2012 has seen astonishing changes in the way we consume stories. Stories can spread faster than they ever have before and we have more information available and accessible than anyone in the human race before us.
This has been the year of Kony 2012 - the slick production that was meant to engage a generation in the fight against a a horrible warlord, but quickly became a victim of it’s own success.
Whilst millions of people jumped onto the campaign, millions of others turned their gaze on the campaign itself, questioning their motivations, their methods and their reasoning. In the hours it took Kony 2012 to become a worldwide social media success, it only took hours for the cracks in the campaign to show.
It’s been the year of simplified politics packaged and distributed for the digital age and the 24 hour news cycle:
Upon his reelection in 2012 Barack Obama’s social media team shared the most widely spread online image ever. From the Obama team it was one of the most highly calculated and curated social media campaigns we’ve ever seen, but what do we know of Obama’s policies or that of his competitor Romney? How well do Americans really know their president when polls this year have shown up to 17 percent of their registered voters incorrectly believe their president to be Muslim?
The situation isn’t much better in Australia:
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard fired off one of the most impassioned speeches Australian parliament has seen in years. The video went viral, sparking discussions all around the world regarding the role of gender in politics and public life. The downside? The extremes of parliament and political life have become the crux of political reporting in the never ending chase for a scandal or something to feed the media monster. Instead of discussing policy in the public space, personalities have become front and centre of the political debate.
However, in challenging times there is opportunity. Citizens now have the opportunity to give and share their feedback in real time and in many cases achieve real outcomes by doing so. The Destroy The Joint campaign was created in response to comments from shock jock Alan Jones who believed that women in positions of power in Australia were “destroying the joint”. A number of campaigns came together in 2012 to tell the advertisers of Jone’s program that the public would no longer support companies contributing financially to his program. The campaign lost Jones and his parent company millions of dollars in advertising revenue and showed the power of the internet to engage and coordinate a community into action.
Technology has also allowed people without a voice to share their stories with the wider world. In Syria, after an internet blackout Google and Twitter came together to put in place a phone service so Syrians could share information of their conflict with the rest of the world.
In 2012 we have been challenged by a lack of substance in many areas of public life, but our greatest opportunity in 2013 is to now use our voices to demand substance.
What have been the best/worst stories of 2012 for you? Let us know.
- Jonathan Brown
Jonathan is the Creative Director of We Matter Media. You can follow him @JB_AU