The ways in which we communicate with each other are rapidly evolving. This has an impact on how we talk to friends, family, colleagues, and even elected officials. It also has an impact on where those conversations happen.
These days, more and more of those conversations happen online through social media – particularly among younger voters.
We believe that in order to be up-to-date and fully responsive to what the electorate is saying and what it believes, our elected officials need to be tapped in to where those conversations are happening. But how are they staying aware of those conversations? Who is facilitating community dialogue with representatives online? And how are we representing our online selves to our representatives?
It’s a gray space that most of us are learning to navigate as we walk through it, for better or worse.
With these thoughts in mind, we were interested to hear this week about a brand new candidacy campaign of Charleston’s own Crystal Good. She’s running to be the “Social Media Senator for the Digital District of West Virginia.”
No, it’s not actually a real seat. But it’s a pretty interesting campaign.
Crystal, a well-known Appalachian poet, entrepreneur, and social media personality, is using her campaign to bring attention to an important political issue: how can we use tools like social media to make it easier for busy, working West Virginians to provide ideas, feedback and opinions about policy issues, and to have a real impact on the decision-making process?
“There is no official representation for the ‘land’ of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – but there needs to be,” Crystal says. “It’s the new town square, a virtual common ground. By the numbers, Facebook is the second largest country on Earth.”
Crystal’s goal is to make it easier for West Virginians to get involved in politics. And she says now is the perfect time to launch the campaign, “at the tail end of a legislative session that left many citizens feeling frustrated and disengaged.”
“It’s not technically a ‘real’ campaign, but I’m a real person, and I think real people should have a voice,” she says. “Being a good citizen shouldn’t be a full time job. Everyday people don’t have time to go down to the Capitol and lobby their representatives. But anyone can post their opinion on Facebook, anytime, from anywhere – we know, because they’re already doing it!”
The campaign also hopes to introduce fresh ideas into the political process.
“As citizens, we can only say yes or no, for or against, pro or anti. There’s no place to introduce new ideas to the conversation. I want to give people a place to share new, creative solutions to West Virginia’s problems, where they know that their voices will be heard.”
Crystal says she intends to make good on her campaign promises by taking the voices of the people to high-profile leaders like Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senators Joe Manchin and Shelly Moore Capito.
“I want to show people how the political process works, in a completely transparent way. I will create an online platform for people to share their opinions, and then share the aggregate of those opinions with the folks making the decisions. It will all be posted online – every meeting I have with an elected official, what I say, what they choose to do about it.”
In order to “win” the election, Good needs supporters from all 55 counties, and native West Virginians currently living outside the state, to cast their “vote” by liking the campaign’s Facebook page and adding their name to the petition. The results of the election will be announced Thursday, April 2.
You can reach the campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.