Is it just me and my Facebook friends or is Stephen Harper in deeper doo doo than we know?
I will acknowledge—before someone else does—that I am of the artsy, progressive-left-when-it-suits-my-personal-interests persuasion, so it’s no surprise many of my friends are fellow travelers. I live in a federal NDP riding in a province governed, for the moment, by the NDP. But I have plenty of Facebook friends—Facebook being Facebook—who are Tories, including a few current federal candidates, and many more of no, or no-known affiliation.
Which is why I find our first full-on Facebook federal election so intriguing.
Many Canadians are using social media to get, share and comment on campaign news. Mainstream news stories, YouTube videos, online petitions, Twitter posts, fan pages all rocket around the social media echo-chamber with dazzling speed.
Much of it is do-good, get-out-the-vote stuff—the clever Rick Mercer rant, the dog’s breakfast of I-pledge-to-vote pages—or partisan postings re-posted by more partisans.
But Facebook—my Facebook, at least—seems dominated by one overweening theme: get rid of Stephen Harper.
Every time I open Facebook, a few more friends have changed their profile pictures to an anti-Harper image.
Stephen Harper is both polarizing and galvanizing, which makes him a perfect Facebook organizing foil.
There are dozens of anti-Harper pages: “Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper,” “Vote No Confidence in Stephen Harper,” “Get Stephen Harper Out of Office,” etc.. There’s even one entitled “Can This Onion Ring Get More Fans Than Stephen Harper?” The answer is yes: it has 158,170 fans compared with 49,952 for the official Stephen Harper page.
There are links to videos like “The Harper Song: ‘Steve, It’s Time to Leave’” and “ShitHarperDid” (which boasts a million views). And strategic voting sites like Project Democracy and Catch-22, whose purpose is to make sure Stephen Harper doesn’t get his majority, or—better—loses power.
Which means…? I don’t know. Nothing so far seems to have budged Harper’s numbers. But what do poll numbers tell us about real support for a party leader when so few of us willingly talk to pollsters anymore? And even fewer of us bother to vote.