It’s funny how despite development taking place, some sectors on the international frame are determined to conduct business the good old ways. Speaking of old, as new technology emerges, staying in a backward state of mind when looking at the world isn’t going to make much sense – nor will the strategies and implementation of that mindset. As we’re interconnected as never before, how has the diplomatic arena changed and has there maybe been a shift in power of some sort?
The good ol’ diplomatic ways of communicating
Before the communication infrastructure went through the latest revolution (that is, the IT one), several aspects of communicating were reserved for diplomats, representatives, negotiators and experts. Political figures, state representatives and foreign policy professionals had the full authority to define what is to be seen as important when speaking of inter-state communication, leaving little room for public speculation.
Then media found its way to the spotlight and did so by questioning some of these definitions. Although staying careful and cautious not to step on anyone’s toes, journalism shifted a bit from being a tool of only presenting the government’s statements, to actually analyzing them.
From this then, a lot of interesting things occurred, one of them being the concept of investigative journalism in which now (some) professionals understood the importance of taking the side of the public.
Not staying in a naïve state of mind, there were a lot more of those who found it to be extremely satisfying to simply stay safe and keep reporting things blindly, but those smart(er) ones managed to invite the public to question, reason, think.
Now, another aspect of this development was how diplomacy changed. Suddenly, not only were political representatives of all sorts obliged to think before they speak in official meetings with each other, but also in communicating to the public all of the news and progress of value.
No nice suit and reference to self-proclaimed authority could longer be the sole argument for why these peeps were right, as if that happened by default. Then, suddenly, all of the fun began.
The time aspect and reaction outline
Before the internet, things took time. If a diplomatic representative stated something ridiculous or offensive, then it took a while for all parties involved to get their shit together and present a viewpoint on the matter.
As you know, this is not the case today.
With internet, things has gotten much more interesting, almost like a reality show in which you get the fantastic opportunity to follow your choice of representative around all day, all night. Not only that, but you also get to do the same with all other representatives or potential representatives, at times even communicating with them directly.
As important infrastructural development occurs, so does the power distribution within a country shift a bit. From holding a monopoly on media and diplomacy, these things are now in a process of becoming democratized.
Time is of huge relevance to any political ambition, and as time is divided more openly, on a frame where everyone who is interested has the access to data and information, things get way trickier than before that.
As political representatives suddenly find themselves in a more difficult position, so do regular citizens also go through a state of change. As normal, regular people get an invitation to be more active and question more in the political world of things, the level of success depends on their willingness to do so.
That is, to actually get off of their butts and realize that although the political world has been occupied by assholes for quite a while, it’s important to be there and question asshole tendencies if the idea is to change things for the better.
So, you’re a citizen? Congratulations, you’re a representative
As this new level of power is very much intriguing and inviting, there’s this little note to consider before actually getting into discussions with political figures, representatives and all other folks involved in relations on a local, national, regional or global level.
That is, the language and the tone of voice. Being completely taken for granted IRL, for various reasons people tend to lose all manners online. They go bananas, they use insults and accusations, they shout out names and ridicule. Not all, but many.
Although this serves a purpose indeed, as every voice deserves to be heard no matter what, there’s a bunch of strategy tools to consider before writing things down. Basically, it all comes down to a bunch of questions, the following four ones covering the basics:
- Why are you saying what you wish to say?
- To whom are you saying this and from whom would you like to get a response?
- In what way would it have to be said in order to get a response?
- Are you using your own identity in asking these questions or are you anonymous?
Since most communication happens locally and nationally in times when big issues are in the spotlight, remembering that you’re a citizen and therefore a representative for your papers is important. This is because of the very fact that being interested in deliberating on a national question really does require some legitimate reasons for doing so.
That would be the citizenship. Now, as citizenship is something many people take for granted, it does involve rights and responsibilities that are written down and obvious, also including those that are read between the lines. The latter is the one on diplomacy, a fairly new event since historically, regular citizens didn’t have any business in that field.
Representing your statements and other things
As this is the current case, as soon as you state something and especially in conversations with political figures, you’re a representative yourself. You’ve taken your right to speak, and the responsibility to do so when there are questions that you consider far more important to emphasize.
Now, not only do you represent your opinion and standpoint, but also yourself as an individual, your citizenship, the current time in which you live, and the tone of diplomacy, the communicative capacity that you hold.
Yes, both IRL and online.
Social media is stepping into a more sophisticated state of being, which will further enable this communication to run smoothly. Using online communication as a tool and focusing on the strengths in this way of interacting will most definitely change the way in which people relate to political figures.
We’re more prone to be open and honest as we’re stepping into the online dimension, as indirect communication somehow relieves us from the stress of standing face to face with someone who is a professional politician, with the body language of an authority figure.
It’s not ideal, but hey – That’s what we’ve got
This is Diplomacy 2.0. People all over the world are able to interact with each other and political figures, as well as representatives of all sorts, whether from the public or private sector. This is fantastic, democratizing communication and diplomacy in a way that has never been done before.
As online interaction depends on various factors, for those interested in seriously using their democratic right to interact – the opportunities are next to endless. There’s plenty of room for improvement in this respect, but what is currently happening could lead to a lot of great things for people all over the world.
At the end of the day, it’s about making choices.