Chris Schmidt (crschmidt) wrote,
Chris Schmidt
crschmidt

Social Software Advocacy

I'm not the most political person in the world. Ask anyone from my ex-roomate, hacking for dollars on a now-defunct political campaign, now working for cash out in San Francisco, to my politcally active girlfriend - they'll tell you that no matter what the topic, my thoughts are pretty wishy washy. That doesn't mean, of course, that I don't have opinions, but I never really bother to form them into something that most people would consider a centralized theory on just about anything.

I do think that LiveJournal has made a mistake by supporting an organization that is considered by many advocates of similar campaigns to be useless in its goals - insulting and deragatory to those people who it claims it is trying to help.

One example of something that this campaign has provided to help the teens of America today: Series of advertisements which condemn those teens who get pregnant: "One ad features a teenage girl showing her midriff with the word ''Cheap'' printed on her bosom. She says, 'Condoms are cheap. If we'd used one, I wouldn't have to tell my parents I'm pregnant.'" (These ads can be viewed at http://www.teenpregnancy.org/media/psa/ads/adthanks.asp.)

Far be it from me to say that LiveJournal shouldn't have a political agenda - or even that they shouldn't push it. I actually think that this type of post in a community such as LiveJournal is actually beneficial to the people who use the site - LiveJournal is a community full of people who may not know the things that some pregnancy prevention sites provide. However, in this case, the particular site looking for endorsement is a bit... on the iffy side as far as actually helping people goes.

Site admins posted a retraction as I was posting this: the new post basically says exactly what you'd expect: "Shit, that site sucks, we didn't mean that, we were just trying to help."

As one user put it: "Good intentions are good, but a large shovelful of cynicism is always helpful also."

Personally, I think that in a social environment like LiveJournal, you need to be aware that you're looking at a large group of people pointing out all the flaws in everything you do. As such, take some care to investigate all the aspects of what you're pushing on to people - in a situation like this, you're only asking for trouble if you don't.

Some people say "LiveJournal can push whatever viewpoint they want." I completely agree, but considering the viewpoint typically espoused by LiveJournal, and its users, you have to be aware of the schism you're going to create in some cases. If you're up to it, that's cool - but beware of alienating your users.

Imagine if LiveJournal posted a news post supporting George Bush for the next election - do you think that the reaction would be more positive?

I don't think so.
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