I have had a rethink on the idea that there is no such thing as local any more?
It began when contemplating, from a hotel room to the south of Paris, the specific kind of Gallic urban decay that is somehow depressing, artistic and monumental at the same time. This rediscovery of local nuance was exacerbated by a story in the paper this morning titled “‘100% sexy’ Tory Dumped by the Party.”
In a nutshell a local Councillor was deselected by the Conservative Party because he posted a ‘How Sexy Am I Quiz’ on his Facebook profile. The 64 year old was ranked 93% by his community of friends and then compounded this crime by writing ‘Why are you saying 93 per cent? I demand a recount I want 100%.’ Geoffrey was then deselected by senior members for ‘lack of judgement over inappropriate material placed by you on your social networking site.’ The councilor had served his community for 12 years and no other reason was reported for decision.
Obviously local politics is by definition parochial. Also the case for social networks creating many narrowly focused micro communities with their own values and etiquette that are broken at your peril is well articulated.
But it struck me that here a local issue was being misinterpreted by a broader set of cultural and social media behaviours. As councillor Courtenay said, ‘There was nothing sexual about the post, it is just my sense of humour.’ It was the kind of off hand, ironic or simply odd comment that is a common factor of social media conversation. As evidence I refer to David Cameron’s twitter/twat comment; radio and social media share some traits. It’s part of what makes social media more authentic and neutralizes any overly-sincere tendencies, as content within social media amplifies very quickly.
This authenticity culture, I believe, is international and shared by the broadest social media community, but is likely to fall foul of local nuance when the different worlds mix. So it’s not the end of ‘local’, but rather that social media is mixing local and global in weird ways. Another story this morning made this quite clear: Noel Edmonds launching the Cosmos application on the iPhone. Now nothing is as locally specific as humorous light entertainment: Noel, Brucie and Freddie Starr belong to the UK palate and our palate alone. Before we condemn ourselves, their role exists in light entertainment scheduling the world over, but with crucial nuances or peculiarities that tie them in locally. So it is truly scary that Noel should go not only global but universal. As he explains, “The cosmos exists solely to help those who want to help themselves. It is an incredibly powerful force and a wonderful friend.”