In Roman time, gladiators who were about fight to the death pleaded for their lives to the Emperor Claudius by uttering “Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant” roughly translated to “Hail, emperor Caesar, we who are about to die salute you”. The Emperor then replied by first assessing the crowd’s reaction to their plea, before giving his own thumbs down; signifying for the swords to be put away or thumbs up signifying a kill.
Wait a moment…thumbs down is a good thing?
That’s right, incorrect interpretation of the thumbs down gesture can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, who mistook the Latin word verso “turned” to mean “turned down”. In his iconic painting Pollice Verso (1873), Gérôme mistakenly depicted a death scene with the thumbs down gesture. From then on giving a thumbs down was widely accepted to signify disapproval.
Such is the power of the popular media that today, Facebook’s symbol for “likes” is the ubiquitous thumbs up. Yet, regardless of the interpretation of the gesture, what I find fascinating is the way that the thumbs up/down gesture symbolises a collective decision making process in play. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that post election, regular Labor members are using social media to demand for the ability to help choose the leader for the Labor party. When the Financial Review went to press on Thursday the “Anthony Albanese for Labor Leader” Facebook page had 1,600 likes. As of today, the number climbed to 2,950 likes and is likely to grow.
Today, the right to vote is no longer restricted to certain gender or race in most countries and the ability to do so had never been so accessible. When you throw in social media into the mix; you theoretically have the perfect storm to run a political social media campaign.
Yes I am referring to you Mr Kevin Rudd.
Post election, the question had been raised in other blogs, how did Labor lost the election despite owning social media throughout the period leading to the election? After all, didn’t Rudd replicated elements of the highly successful Obama campaign and even hired some of Obama’s own political strategists?
Although Rudd employed some of Obama’s campaign tactics, when comparing the two campaigns side-by-side it’s like comparing a sardine to a whale. The Australian election was run within a 4 weeks sprint and a number of the tactics the Obama campaign invested in took months of rigorous data mining. More on this in a future post, so stay tuned!
In my last post, you kind readers voted that the reason the Liberal party won was because the media influenced the election result. This made me question the assumption that social media mirrors our reality and that just maybe the traditional media still plays a part in forming public opinion. That or as the playwright David Williamson said in tonight’s episode of Q&A, it’s not an election about Liberal vs Labor, the public had already made up their mind not to vote Labor.
Did Kevin’s election campaign messaging inspire you? Did his intent to engage hit the mark?