August 28, 2013

Horse 1537 - Hashtag #ImVotingLiberal Goes Hilariously Wrong

Twitter is a sometimes hilarious place.

The Twitter handle @ImVotingLiberal and the corresponding Facebook page have either been created by a Liberal Party supporter or the party themselves.

In the blurb for the handle @ImVotingLiberal it says:
We're young and voting Liberal on September 7, and this is why... Send us your photos to

This is an example of what they were expecting, I assume:

Or maybe this:

As you'd logically expect, Australia being the land of weird land of snark and political satire, had people who support the Labor Party hijack the hashtag #imvotingliberal to make fun of the Liberal Party and Tony Abbott. The joke didn't stop there though, the punchline just joke funnier.

After Australians started going to bed at about 10:30pm EST, the hashtag was re-hijacked by a large American audience. Suddenly, supporters of America's Democratic Party took it to mean that the hashtag was presumably in support of President Obama or something. Not long after that the hashtag was re-re-hijacked by supporters of America's Republican Party to join the land of snark and satire against them.

The word "liberal" in Australian politics (as indeed most of the Anglosphere) means set of idelogies which cover centre-right economic liberalism as opposed to the way it is used in the United States which is more closely aligned with social liberalism.

I get the impression that the American audience who saw #imvotingliberal
a) had no idea of the context that was intended for the hashtag
b) had no idea that there is an Australian Election on Sep 7
c) had no idea that one of the major parties in Australia is called the Liberal Party
d) had no idea that the Liberal Party is a centre-right pro-business party and is more akin to their Republican Party

When people in Australia began to wake up, from about 08:30am they saw what had happened. Suddenly, Australians coming from the land of weird land of snark and political satire, re-re-re-hijacked the hashtag until we have what we see now, a glorious mess.

This sort of thing isn't a new phenomenon by a long shot. The word which we most commonly use for this is "meme" which is derived from the Ancient Greek "mimeme" which means "an imitated thing". The internet and particularly Twitter which is pretty well much instant, is a perfect media through which things propagate.

"Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation."
- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1976)

It's just amusing in cases like this when memetic mutation happens so quickly that we end up with something being re-re-re-hijacked in the space of less than 12 hours.

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