Fingertip Democracy – the lazy politician

Everyone says greatness can come from anywhere. But I am sure nobody imagined it coming from a cubicle in an IT company surrounded by 800 other such cubicles. That is my story of greatness, of almost greatness.

Everyone likes to dream. Not many like to work for it. So I hit upon the perfect plan, big dream with small work required.

I intended to join politics. The dream ended at Prime Minister but the plan ended at becoming an MLA. The strategy was simple, do what I am best at – fooling around with my laptop and my phone. All knowledge was on Google, time and a fast internet connection was given by my company (they even pay me for it).

First the research. I searched for the youngest and most metropolitan constituency in Bangalore. Found it. A random search on Google got me enough phone numbers to start off.

Then the content. Copy paste from a few election manifestos and from a few political bloggers and I am a visionary, the next big hope of India. Open Photoshop and I look like the next Rahul Gandhi. Soon I had a blog with my vision, my passion and my reaction waiting for a bit of interaction.

It was time for execution. No door to door campaigning for me. A nice peppy message on We-Chat announcing me as the next big thing with the right amount of smileys and a link to my blog and my campaign in underway. Somebody always forwards everything!

To be great, you can’t just rest after the start. Staring at the blog-counter on your blog cannot be counted as work. One has to persevere. So I put it on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn and even on Orkut. Why take a risk!

I might have lost my zeal had it not been for the comments and re-tweets I got. Most of them thought I was being funny or stupid but hey, nobody said I was being corrupt or dishonest. I was on the right track.  I followed up my initial post with a renewed appeal. To forward, mention or re-tweet my message to everyone who lives in my constituency. And people were responding. Well, my offer of 24/7 supply of Candy Crush lives might have helped a bit. But it is good marketing. Soon I had a group of people from my constituency genuinely interested in me. I think I got my first vote.

I read a few blogs on digital marketing and a few more on politics and I knew exactly what my constituents needed. They wanted engagement, a full time connect with their representative. Who better than me to give it. Me who feels naked if my mobile or tablet is not at my side.  So I started researching again, scanning Google for any issues in my constituency, trolling twitter for any topic my voters might have a connection with. From a Dominoes outlet which does not deliver on time to a monkey that steals fruits from little girls, I now knew all the problems. So I kept on posting them and messaging them, offering solutions. The solutions were ready made. When I have the whole world at my fingertips, there are not many problems whose solutions cannot be found. As more people became engaged, more and more joined in.

Now initiative can take you so far. The rest of it comes from investment. Now that I felt I had a realistic model, I began investing. And the opportunities for someone with a credit card (borrowed) on the web are limitless. I began promoting my posts on FB, mobile ads in Google, geo-fencing SMS’s and the whole gamut. I even began paying for my own PR. I was getting famous enough. People were discussing me and promoting me. I got myself a hashtag trending on Twitter, I had my own videos posted on YouTube, my presentations on SlideShare, began posting relevant images, a few search keywords on Google would even pull up my name.

But was all this enough?  Will people vote for me or was I just an entertainment package? I had to provide more value somehow. I came up with the idea of a mobile application just for the constituency. Where everyone can register, send their complaints, however small, upload images, and keep track of all money spent from public funds.

That worked. Everyone was impressed. My followership was growing. I was getting volunteers to spread my message. The local news and print media picked it up. Elections were round the corner and my name was being bandied around. And I had not yet left my desk in office. A few posters with my name started coming up. My blog was my election office, my FB page was my stage and my We-Chat was my mike. Without moving from my seat I was an integral part of the democratic process.

Some dreams can come true. Some couch potatoes can move towards greatness. Like me.

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December 2013
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