• Communicating Gangnam Style •
BY ANNE SOBLE
When I first decided to limit access to my social media connections, little did I know that I had discovered the best way to control social media rather than let them control me. I regard most of my local social media conversations as genuine exchanges of information and opinion that enrich my sense of public issues, as well as provide important sounding boards for my own thoughts, and result in feedback that brings diverse perspectives to my own.
However, it's not the public social media that do this for me, but the close to a dozen Malibu private blogs and what can loosely be described as email chains—by invitation lists of 8 to 20 round-robin emailers who take on the ills of the planet—that are composed of journalists, academics, CEOs of businesses of all sizes, and professionals of every ilk.
The conversations are not bloviation that ascends into the ethers, because these are people who move in policy circles where ideas have the possibility of reaching those with decision-making power and implementation authority. For this reason, a surprising number of elected officials and government appointees who might read public media but would never sign into them take part in these circles.
These informal communication networks encourage free and open expressions because there is mutual respect and a sense that however diverse the participants are personally, they speak a similar language. They focus on issues, not personalities, and they prefer facts to knee-jerk reactions. The debates can be lively but they eschew name-calling. That doesn't mean they are devoid of emotion. The discussion acknowledges that emotional reaction is a key element of the political process that cannot be ignored.
Nonsensical as this may seem to those who applaud the current decimation of language and literacy, there are actually sentences with nouns and verbs, and polysyllabification is acceptable in appropriate contexts. And would anyone believe that the participants eschew typos, oh my! There also is extensive use of BTW, FWIW, IMO and, truth be told, an occasional WTF, but this speeds up transmission of ideas.
Of course, a healthy sense of humor helps the communication process. A recent group riff produced a rapid-fire exchange on the possibility of convincing everyone at Malibu City Hall to take part in a Gangnam-Style video. The idea was derailed when the saga of the El Monte 14 erupted and some of the fun of the Gangnam phenom took a hit.
The video concept isn't off the wall as Gangnam-gu (Gangnam district) and Malibu actually appear to have a lot in common. Psy's "invisible horse dance" is to themes of political and sociological commentary that apply to affluent areas in all cultures.