Thursday 05 December 2013

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Nelson Mandela was OK by a lot of people. I imagine he is most people’s favourite person who has spent a significant amount of time in prison. He was a proper good egg. He was also 95. As well as his porridge he’s got up to quite some stuff over the years – including, as we all remember, having his garden redesigned by Titchmarch and the Groundforce crew. Is someone dying at 95 so sad?

I reckon I’d deal at 95 now if Noel Edmonds was to offer me the choice on a celestial version of Deal or No Deal. 95 and basically be one of the most inspirational human beings of the last century.

I’m not sure where I am with the way a lot of people deal with death in these days of social media. There seemed to be a hell of a lot of hastily knocked together graphics with quotes and images from Mandela. They also included a reference to his death, it wasn’t like they were just using an old infographic.

There seems something a bit odd with me about social media and mourning on a serious level. This isn’t a suggestion that it is wrong or disrespectful, I just feel a bit odd about it all. This is how people connect now and therefore a shared sense of loss is going to occur via this medium/these mediums.

And when the death is such a world figure then there is going to be people speaking on behalf of groups of people, reacting to Madiba’s death. Of course they are. But there is something a bit icky about this email.

Full disclosure: this isn’t a personal email. I know it says my name at the top: this is some technical wizardy from the boffins at the Labour party. I’m just a member and receive emails that they send out.

So, I’m OK with Milliband issuing a statement on behalf of the Labour Party. It’s fine, that’s what major leaders (and Milliband! LOL!) do on behalf of their party. I don’t feel that this needed to be sent on an email to all members the Labour Party. I certainly feel a bit yucky about being encourages to go and share my reflections with Ed (on Facebook).

I feel that people want to be seen to be doing things that show how sensitive they are to things. I’m not suggesting Milliband doesn’t think that Mandela was a pretty good egg.

But doesn’t it make you feel a bit sad inside that for this to happen there has had to be meetings/phonecalls/emails between people proofing ‘Ed’s’ email, checking it had the correct balance of emotion and respect? And someone at some point deciding that there would definitely need to be a call to join a conversation about Mandela on The Labour Party’s Facebook page. Someone will be looking at the data this email produces and learning lessons about what works on what doesn’t on bulk email regarding the deaths of major international political figures, ensuring the next one is better for traffic on the Facebook page.

Pretty sure Mandela wasn’t plotting a social media campaign the night before he made that long walk.

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