Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Perils of communicating with "the people:" Part II

Last month, the White House tried their hand at blogging the Prez's Middle East "Democracy Freezes Over" tour.

Now, apparently trying to show a bit more of "the common touch" than might be usual for a government agency whose hallmark is keeping us paranoid, cowed, confused, and inconvenienced, the Transportation Security Administration has made its first foray into a medium best known to many for its informality and participatory atmosphere. Think of it strip searches with a happy face.

The results?

Uhm, not so great, really:

The team of bloggers tried to set a friendly tone by introducing themselves with lines such as: “Hi! My name is Ethel and I’m from Wisconsin. I like music, I love ice cream, and I adore weird facts.” But by mid-day yesterday, comments had already been turned off the original “Welcome” post after “things started to get ugly.” A highlight of the comments:

– “Funny how the government stresses ‘anti-bullying’ in schools but promotes bullying by the TSA.”

– “DHS and TSA are fundamentally broken. Disband both immediately and return our civil liberties.”

– “I think TSA are idiots.”

– “I would like someone to explain the ‘liquids’ thing. It makes no sense to me.”

Call it the "Lehrer Conundrum," for Tom Lehrer's famous observation that "the reason most folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by 'the people.'"

It's a fine sentiment to want to open dialog with "real people," but that can get a little too real sometimes, especially if your daytime job accustoms you dealing with "real people" by detaining them for hours in a windowless room if anything about them strikes you the wrong way.

1 comment:

Chuck Butcher said...

It's enough to make you grateful for your own commenters...even the trolls