Participation is purposeful; it is intended to make a difference – to the participant, or to the world around them. People who take part in voluntary and community action are looking to fulfill this need. But local democracy has lost its sense of purpose. Politicians are seen as self-serving, local elections written off as a foregone conclusion and engagement is considered a cynical exercise in legitimising decisions already made.
It would be nice to think that social media could solve this problem, but I’m far from convinced. I do not dispute that it can be an excellent tool for engaging with certain groups, and making the business of government more open and transparent. But when people do not trust the messenger or the message, changing the medium is unlikely to make much difference.
Great discussion at the Guardian. Couldn’t agree more with the quote above.