The politics of mediocrity 


Recently Steven Harper has released a new campaign strategy of “I’m not perfect” and in its own way it’s brilliant.

A platform that excuses him and his candidates from the foolish decisions they have made either by reviewing their true nature, finding something inappropriate amusing, or typing something in a fit of rage that they would not have said in polite company.

The Internet has changed the way we act, and as a result has changed our perception of people. 

The sense of being anonymous while tapping on a keyboard alone, overrides our common social dignity. We do and say things in the privacy of our own homes that should not be on display in the public, yet when we sit at a computer, half dressed in the safe environment of our home our defences are lowered. As a result we text, comment, share things on that inanimate computer screen without fully understanding we are actually standing on a stage in front of a crowd. A crowd that can record our every misstep.

Things we would not say at a social gathering seem less offensive as our inhibitions are lowered by our perceived solitude with a tablet or computer as our companion. As a result, that dirty joke that we find amusing in its naughtiness is shared with the click of a button, often before we consider the consiquenses of our act. Would we have said this to our friends face to face? What about to a room full of coworkers? Or a crowd of strangers?

Probably not.

Yet over and over we see or do it. Responding to something quickly and without thought, because it’s too easy, and no one is there to provide the visual clues that warn us to stop before we embarrass ourselves completely.

We warn our children about their internet use, and the dangers of strangers that seem to them less threatening in the comfort of their homes, yet do we follow that same advice? Do we pause and reflect on what we are about to type or share, or do we bang away on the keys blind to the audience we are addressing?

Harper’s team is reacting to a change in our social interactions, and correctly. When tweets and posts and videos from years ago can arise from the Internet and slap us in the face, it is inevitable that candidates that are supposedly above reproach, will see their lack of judgement paraded for all to see. We are not perfect, so he is asking the public to overlook the minor quips and questionable judgement that will pop up frequently, and to focus on the candidate as they are in public.

We have not yet figured out the blurring between private and public that the Internet has created, but here’s some advice. Imaging your mother and a dozen strangers are in the room with you while you respond to a social media posting. Say what you are typing out loud and think about if that would be appropriate in the imagined room before hitting send.

Oh, And put some clothes on.

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