The corrupting influence of technology - Macleans.ca
 

The corrupting influence of technology


 

Charlie Angus wants MPs banned from using the Twitter. Bob Rae was asked about this yesterday and boldly declared that it might not be expecting too much to trust MPs with such technology.

Question: A decorum question.

Bob Rae: Decorum.

Question: Yes.  One of your colleagues –

Bob Rae: You’re asking me about decorum?  (Laughter.)   You all look very well dressed this morning.

Question: (Inaudible) to apologize in the House for putting something out on Twitter, an insult, a fat joke about a Tory member and another MP stood and said perhaps we should be focussed on committee work and not playing with BlackBerries and Twitter.  What do you make of these sorts of little outburst?  Is it silliness for MPs  to be doing this (inaudible)?

Bob Rae: No, I mean look, these things – with this technology now these things happen.  I mean I can’t get too excited about it one way or other.  Some people are trying to make a joke or something.  Sometimes somebody who occasionally tells jokes they’re not always well received.  And apparently this one wasn’t by Mr. Del Maestro.  It’s understandable.  I would just let it go. I  think the issue’s settled.

Question: I’ll agree with you there.  I’m just asking –

Bob Rae: Oh, thank you.

Question: — about another question about should we – should MPs  be sitting on their BlackBerries and playing with Facebook and Twitter while they’re supposed to be sitting in a committee doing the nation’s business?

Bob Rae: Well, I think we – the great thing about MPs  is that we’re able to chew gum and walk at the same time and I think occasionally we can do more than one thing at a time.  It’s called multi-tasking.


 

The corrupting influence of technology

  1. Well, I think we – the great thing about MPs is that we're able to chew gum and walk at the same time and I think occasionally we can do more than one thing at a time. It's called multi-tasking.

    I think Mr. Rae should us his Berry to look up the latest research on multi-tasking. It doesn't exist. And those who claim they're good at multi-tasking are generally less productive.

    • There is still a lot of downtime in these committees where people can twitter. Useless procedural motions, people reading from prepared text they've already shared with you, short breaks, people taking a moment to shuffle through their notes.

      I see nothing wrong with people using devices during moments like these. Of course, ignoring what's going on in committee to be on facebook is less then ideal.

      • An insult given and an apology received, whatever. The real question for me is if it's reasonable for us to ask MPs to take heed that there is a time for focusing on work that we pay them to do and a time to Twitter, email, Facebook, whatever.

        As in many other lines of work, there may be downtime in Parliamentary business, but that doesn't mean it's time to start pulling out your BB and pin your buddies about what to have for lunch. Or make fat jokes about other MPs. Or look at racy pictures of your SO.

        I wouldn't want my MP banned from social networking sites, they're effective ways of communicating thoughts and messages to an increasingly web-connected public. That said, I believe fidgeting with a gadget in the middle of a meeting or presentation is a) rude and b) a poor use of time.

        • Who knows.

          Maybe its a rude waste of time, maybe they have something important they need to send.

          I think the bigger point is that banning things is silly. We elect MPs to do a job but at some point we have to let go and let them do it.

          This idea that we should micromanage very aspect of an MP's life is very distasteful.

          We an elect an MP and the results speak for themselves, the methods are irrelevent. If they do good work and using twitter works for them then great! If it turns into a distraction we can always vote them out of office.

          • "This idea that we should micromanage [every] aspect of an MP's life is very distasteful."

            Agreed. But equally distasteful is the behaviour of MPs who decide it's more important to look at racy photos of their SOs and make fat jokes about their colleagues than pay full attention to the task at hand.

            Parliament isn't (supposed to be) middle school. If they don't want taxpayers breathing down their necks at every turn, MPs need remember that.

          • "If it turns into a distraction we can always vote them out of office."

            By that time, it's too late and the damage has been done.

  2. My thoughts exactly.

  3. "the great thing about MPs is that we're able to chew gum and walk at the same time and I think occasionally we can do more than one thing at a time."

    I think that's arguable. Jack of all trades is a master of none and all that.

    I don't believe MPs should be 'banned' from using twitter/blackberries or whatever other technology that comes down the pike. Technology gives our MPs a chance to appear human, like normal people, instead of being entirely focused on their talking points/spin/party line while communicating with constituents.

    Why this desire to make our MPs as milquetoast as possible? I understand why leaders like the system we currently have but I don't get why backbenchers put up with it.

  4. And maybe they shouldn't be looking at pictures of their girlfriend in sexy pose when they are sitting in the house. And maybe they should not spend their time during members statements poking fun at a member's dog.

    We could go on and on.

    The thing is this is a free country. I can judge for myself if my MP is misappropriating his time.

  5. The only thing that interests me about all this is the ambiguous use of the word "twit".

  6. Multi-tasking? They can't even think and talk at the same time…

  7. Perhaps you should ask Scott Brison instead.

  8. My favourite part was Charlie's statement that Twitter should be banned "to save politicians from looking like idiots."

    Yeah, that'll do it…

    • Well, it's a start.