|If you remember this movie too, know|
you are old as hell.
More often than not, as an advocate and “The Advoc8te” I find myself rooting for the underdog, if for no other reason than to prove that anything is possible (and to annoy the hell out of my rivals). And for River East, anything is possible. We are living in the center of the universe of the next big DC transformation, a reaffirmation of sorts. The River East chant is not "we are just as good", but "we are great ,now let me tell you why!"
Now that brings us to the subject of today’s post. Every now and again (more now than again) , some D.C. newspaper or blog will hold some version of a city-wide "The Best of Yadda-Yadda" contest and East of the River almost always gets shut out of every single category (except “Most colorful politician", we seem to win that one hands down every time). River East is the Susan Lucci of the D.C. online popularity contest. It would be embarrassing if it weren’t so damn sad.
East of the River is made up of Wards 7 and 8, has over 140,000 District residents, and is home to three members of the current City Council. However, if we “learn” anything from these online popularity contests is that there is still very little known or celebrated (online anyway) about River East life. East of the River is not just the “red headed step child”; we are that kid you might have sat next to at lunch four years ago but you don’t really remember their name.
I think part of this disconnect is more attributed to ignorance about life East of the River rather than disinterest. Speaking from my personal experience, once NREs (Non River Easters) find out I am The Advoc8te (assuming they read the blog of course) they usually have many questions about my experience living in Ward 8. They seem generally interested, which makes sense because I find when people learn about the great and diverse things River East/EotR has to offer, visitors are pleasantly surprised and want to know more. I know for a fact that a good portion of the readers of this blog don’t live in Congress Heights or East of the River. I like the fact that my online Peeping Toms are at least learning about our communities, even if just online for now, perhaps at some point they will be encouraged to pay us a visit, heck maybe even move here (which has happily been the case for several readers).
I do think that the overall reason that is appears that East of the River doesn’t support East of the River in these “popularity contests” can be chalked up to one simple fact:
These contests are usually and almost exclusively online.
How can you expect voters to participate in the election process when they don’t have the basic tools to participate? How can you vote in a contest if you don't even know it's going on?
As a blogger, a social media consultant, and as someone who spends about 75% of her waking hours online, I understand the ease and convenience of holding these types of contests using online surveys and Twitter. The technology is here to stay, no doubt about it. However, in communities such as ours where a good portion of the population still doesn’t have access to reliable and/or affordable Internet service and where most homes do not have a computer or access to one, a big part of the population becomes disenfranchised, even in purely entertainment contests such as this one. How do we expect residents who exist within the confines of the digital void to participate outside of it? How do we expect residents from outside of the community to learn about what's inside the community if there is such a digital divide? I like to blog but I can't blog for everyone East of the River. (nor should I --- do you see these typos?!)
Currently, The Washington Post is holding a “D.C.’s Top Tweets 2010” Contest where voters go online and nominate their favorite D.C. area Twitter users and then vote for the most popular nominations in thirteen categories. Polls close 11:59pm,December 31.
Sounds simple enough right? Excited to see who will be crowned D.C.'s “Best of” this time?
*****Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!*****
There will be NO East of the River champions. Not a single one. The likelihood that a River East blogger or business will receive the most votes in any of these categories is slim to none. Heck, the list of nominations doesn’t look good for EotR. The River East wunderkind known as @DG_Rad of And Now, Anacostia fame didn’t even make the cut --- and dare I say he’s the most popular (and photogenic) of us River East bloggers! If there was a EotR Blogger King, it would be him. (I see myself more as the Black Queen - not for obvious reasons)
Heck, I’m surprised @TheAdvoc8te even made the cut, I am pretty sure just three people nominated me (my stalker, my mom, and @ANC7C04). To show how slim the pickings are for East of the River Twitter users, my PR company twitter handle, @reSPINPR was also nominated and I haven't posted a tweet on that thing in months( hmmm…maybe my mom voted twice).
Perhaps the most important thing we learn in these “Best of” contests is not who the “Best Social Media Geek” is or the “Favorite Local Business” but who consistently brings home the title of“Best least-known community within the District of Columbia”.
We take the gold home in THAT category all the time, no contest needed.
A good portion of the River East community isn’t online and probably won’t be for a while. We are struggling to get even the most basic of quality, reliable services here. Good cell phone service in Congress Heights is kind of like a thin Oprah, you've seen it but it never lasts for long. (BTW - I find sticking my head out of my bedroom window while holding a wire coat hanger will at least allow me to check my text messages)
The River East digital divide is nothing new. The lack of affordable and accessible broadband access was addressed in the Broadband Townhall meeting at THEARC last month. As a guest panelist for that forum, I extolled the many benefits of the Internet and community blogging. I was also painfully aware that for many in the community it’s not an issue of not wanting to surf the informational highway but having the basic tools to do so.
I say all of this to say, go ahead and support us East of the River Twitter users and bloggers in this latest online “Best of” Contest. You can vote HERE. Nevertheless, speaking for me anyway, I am not expecting a “win” (whatever that is) anytime soon. We are awesome, but not a lot of people know that yet, but they will. I am just happy that more people know that Congress Heights is NOT in Anacostia. LOL.
Until then, keep reading --- and twittering!
(Voted “Best Halloween Costume” --1986)
P.S. For the cynics out there, this was not a cheap ploy to get the sympathy vote. You really can vote for @ANC7A04 or @Dizzyluv25 for best DC Blogger. If you aren’t following them already, you should!
P.P.S. In lieu of birthday presents, donations to "The-Advoc8te-wants-to-go-on-a-vacation-for-her-birthday-but-as-a-small-business-owner-I-am-going-to-be-responsible-and-save-my-money" fund are being accepted through Paypal. For only 30 cents a day you can send a poor Advoc8te on a much needed trip to a swim up bar or on a European vacation. Oh well, a girl can dream.