A Message From A Fellow Disbeliefer

June 2, 2013

So, you finally got fed up enough with our mayor’s antics that you took to the streets yesterday. Made a sign and headed off to Nathan Phillips Square to demand his resignation. tumbleweedFour thousand strong according to Facebook.


But a fraction of that. Four hundred? Three hundred? A hundred? Seventy-five?

Right-wing supporters of the mayor mocked you via the same social media that promised you droves of people out to protest. Don’t let that discourage you. If four thousand people had turned out, those same voices would’ve brushed it off as nothing more than ‘the usual suspects’ and then given you the number of people who voted for Rob Ford in 2010, doubled it and added a couple zeros. Six hundred million. The largest mandate in the history of democracy.

There is a more essential take away lesson from this, however.mockery

As much as it pains me to say this, the importance of social media, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, remains only a small fraction of our democratic process. I’d like to think a valuable and growing component but a minor one nonetheless. Currently, it punches below its weight.

Speaking from personal experience, exclusive reliance on social media makes us lazy participants in our own democracy. It’s virtual engagement. So far, virtual engagement has won no elections.

It is about boots on the ground and getting people interested and out to vote. Not for nothing was former mayoral candidate and political something something, John Nunziata, on Twitter earlier today, taunting the efforts of those at Nathan Phillips Square. “Majority of those clammering for the Mayor’s resignation,” he opined, “didn’t even vote in the last election and are unlikely to vote in the next.”

I don’t know how exactly Mr. Nunziata knows that. apathyHe certainly didn’t back up the assertion anywhere but he is on to something. Turnout is key in any election. While 2010 was unusually high for a municipal election, it was barely over 50%. Anger has to result in action. Otherwise, it’s just anger.

Let’s assume that, barring any further damaging revelations (and that’s not a bet I would make), Mayor Ford gets through this term and runs for re-election in 2014. It will do no good for anyone not wanting to see him get another kick at the can to stand around in disbelief at the possibility, to rail against those who are still in his corner, thinking he’s the greatest mayor ever. To cross your fingers and pray to god a plurality of Torontonians come to their senses.

Yesterday at Nathan Phillips Square has to be viewed as just the beginning. Anger into action. civicengagement2The boots on the ground have to be our boots on the ground. Getting out there to convince people what’s at stake, why it’s important for them to pay attention to what’s been going on and why they have to vote. We must connect to those who didn’t take the time to get involved last time out, and those who thought the city needed someone like Rob Ford to be mayor and now aren’t so convinced that was a good idea.

Most importantly, we need to connect to them and with them, face-to-face and not just on Facebook.

hopefully helpfully submitted by Cityslikr

Today We Storify

May 11, 2012

Trying out a little something different today, piecing together a story using our Twitter feed.

What?! Twitter? A story? How does that work?

Well, I’m pretty new at this myself  but it goes something like… [click on link below]

Anatomy of a Smear

storifiedly submitted by Cityslikr

Constructive Disengagement

April 29, 2012

I am swearing off futile Twitter fights. Again.

In January, I resolved to do just that. Our friend David Hains wagered I wouldn’t stay quiet more than a couple weeks. His guess was off wildly. I was back at it in a matter of hours, not content to just let stupidity, ill-informed opinions and spinning smears go unanswered.

My rational was a variation of the quote attributed to Mark Twain, A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. Even the most egregious untruth and piece of outright fiction can gain traction if not aggressively contested. Don’t let bullshit lie.

I’m not unaware of the niche market Twitter currently occupies in terms of social media in general and political discourse specifically. Edward Keenan wrote about the divide between the on the ground reality and Twitter bubble in The Grid last month. What may seem of the utmost importance to those of us getting much of our Toronto political news via Twitter is but a passing blip on the radar of a great majority of the city voters.

So don’t sweat the small stuff, I guess I’m saying.

Besides, I’m referring to the mindless, robotic, ideologically rigid wall of nonsense that I no longer think worth engaging with. On Friday I was having some Monty Python back and forth with Sol Chrom and was reminded of the I’d Like to Buy An Argument sketch. “That’s not an argument. That’s contradiction.” “No it isn’t.” “Yes it is.”

This is what I’m attempting to avoid. Why continue a conversation if you already know what the response is going to be? It’s not so much informed discussion where ideas are batted back and forth on the way to forging an agreement. Ironically, that occurs more between those on the left of centre bubble on Twitter than it does across the entrenched partisan divide.

No it isn’t. Yes it is. No it isn’t. It is too you, you lying sack of shit. Repeat and escalate.

There were a couple instances over the last few days where a Twitter argument descended into little more than ad hominen nastiness and vituperative outbursts. To what end? Oh guess what? So-and-so is racist/homophobic/misogynist/fill in your hater of choice here. No shit, Sherlock. Tell us something we don’t know.

It’s ultimately not only a time and energy suck. It’s also more than a little soul deflating. There’s always going to be rank odium existing out there, always surprising and always more pronounced and widespread than you ever imagined possible. Why bother giving it a platform? Don’t hand it a louder voice or the impression of legitimacy by continually responding to it. You already know what the answer is going to be. Nothing’s going to change it.

That’s not to say I don’t want an open and lively debate with those I am not politically simpatico with. Yes, please. But I’m simply not getting it on Twitter currently. Hell, at the municipal level, I’m of the opinion that right wing conservatives simply don’t have it in them to put forth a reasoned, fact based case, taking their cue from Team Ford. We Deserve A Subway is an assertion that needs no numbers or facts to back it up. It’s simply an unsubstantiated declarative that has little interest in consensus or compromise.

So I’ll go about my Twitter business with an eye open for those with differing opinions or who take exceptions to mine, hoping to have a civil discussion but willing to shut it down at the first sign of mindless intransigence. Like this one, that came up on Thursday. A name showed up on the #TOpoli feed I didn’t recognize. Their tweet declared a big fat NO! to road tolls with the claim that motorists already pay more than their fair share for the privilege of driving. I replied suggesting I’d like to see some numbers, studies to back that up. (Hint: probably an impossible request.) A day or so later what I got into my feed was No road toll for Toronto Liberals to waste.

Yeah, OK. So we’re done here. What’s the use of pursuing that line of circular reasoning and baseless opinion? It only leads to burning disappointment and befouled discourse that further digs already intractable divisions.

That’s not something I really set out to contribute when I began writing about municipal politics. So, I’m out of the Twitter tit-for-tat. I’d appreciate it if you remind me of this pledge if I break down and stray from the path.


seriously submitted by Cityslikr

Newwwwww York Is Where I’d Rah-zer Be!

April 21, 2010

We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are off to New York today on a fact finding mission. Our task? To suss out just what the big deal is about the place anyway. NYC. Gotham. The Big Apple. The Empire City. Father Knickerbocker. Simply, The City.

How come it gets so many nicknames? What exactly has the place got that makes it so fucking special, I guess is the job we’re setting out to discover. That, and Acaphlegmic scored us tickets from a friend of a friend who knows a guy who knows a guy that runs a website, and we’re going to a couple Yankee games over the weekend against their arch rivals, the Bosox from Beantown. The Walking City. The Hub. The Athens of America.

So we may be a little light with the postings over the next six days or so. There will be our regular Meet A Mayoral Candidate column this Friday, of course. And since we won’t be getting much rest as the city claims to be one that never sleeps, the odd occasion should pop up, allowing us to deliver a progress report or two about our research.

Also, keep your eyes peeled over to the right side of the page here for our Twitter entries (or easier yet, sign on and become a slavish follower.) We’re going to be spending the time away, trying to master the technology. Apparently, it’s all the rage with the younger set. And if there was ever a place that could be summed up in 140 characters, it would be New York City.

So, until next week, toodles. As they say in the outer boroughs.

Frommerly submitted by Cityslikr

Meet A Mayoral Candidate — Part III

March 5, 2010

Another Friday and another Meet A Mayoral Candidate post.

This week: MageeForMayor!

His name is Colin Magee and he is located in Toronto. According to his bio: The great only appear great because we are on our knees let us rise!

… after that, we got nothing.

It seems that what we’re dealing with here is a political campaign driven exclusively by Twitter. We could find no website, no other contact info. We can’t even be sure if there’s an actual person involved or simply a Twitter account. (Although.. although we’re intrigued by such a notion. No candidate. Just an account. The platform is formulated, added to and modified by a web of users. 21st-century participatory democracy at work, folks!)

To be fair, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are nothing short of raging incompetents in the field of social networking technology. All pertinent information may possibly be out there, easily accessed with a simple thumb click on a link that we remain oblivious to. So don’t write MageeForMayor off on our account. Maybe someone reading this can uncover more details and let us know.

What we did discover as we lurched clumsily through the MageeForMayor Twitterworld is that MageeForMayor likes listening to Social Distortion and The Clash with a beer on a spring day. (Has that going for him.) He tweets in rhyme. (Less impressive.) He announced his candidacy for mayor on January 7th and met with his campaign team in mid-January and again in early February. It seems that MageeForMayor was upset about the Adam Giambrone debacle. Since mid-February there’s been silence. Again, very possibly owing to our ineptitude rather than a lackadaisical approach by MageeForMayor.

It wasn’t all a total bust, our time a-Twittering. While there, we stumbled across a vibrant cyber politico-scape©™®. Groups using the internet to communicate and to arrange non-virtual gatherings of like-minded, tech savvy folks who are passionately committed to the well being of this city.

We were already aware of activists like Dave Meslin who use the internet to promote various causes including reform for fairer proportional representation in our elections with projects like Better Ballots. Through links at MageeForMayor we came across #voteTO, an online based organization that, in its own words “is a grand experiment in attempting to endow a virtual body with real-world political presence.” These are engaged (largely younger) citizens not ideologically driven, looking to contribute toward the betterment of the city where they live, work and play.

This is a deep, untapped, online well that offers a new and important method of public discourse and exchange. Serious candidates seeking political office in Toronto cannot simply ignore it especially those who have not been anointed and pre-ordained by the mainstream press as frontrunners or viable contenders. We too, following the proceedings from the sidelines, are missing out on an underground(swell) of support for new ideas and visions that will be heard in the not-too-distant future.

And think a Twitter political campaign demeans and diminishes the process, old man? Our leading contenders for mayor are already abiding by the 140 character rule. Cut! Cut!! Cut!!! Sell!!!! Sell!!!!! Sell!!!!!! Kick Union Ass!!!!!!!

Nailed it with 71 characters to spare!

This week we’ll answer our own pathetic question we’ve been posing to mayoral candidates. If the present mayor would like his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, how would a Mayor Colin Magee like to see his legacy written?

Wait for it.. wait for it…

Mayor Colin Magee made everyday feel like a warm spring day, listening to Social Distortion and The Clash with a beer in hand for every Torontonian.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr