Originally published on Canlio

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
— Marshall Mcluhan

The Toronto Star recently ran a story about how the government would not allow home grows. The article was based on zero evidence and frankly the headline,“Ottawa might try to prohibit homegrown pot” was, for me, just clickbait based on a sensational, unqualified claim. Comments on social media were alarming and angry but they were directed at the wrong culprit.

Media likes to sell media and will say the strangest things to do so. The culprit was not the government at all, it was the Toronto Star. This is critical for reasons you may not know. The media acts as a purveyor. Its form has changed with the advent and influence of social media and it can now be seen as a gauge of public opinion. Whereas at one point in history people would write letters to the editor, nowadays the online comments section gives a great indication of how the public feels about issues and events.

The comments that came In response to the Toronto Star article made it evident that the majority felt that denying Canadians the right to grow their own cannabis if they chose to was not going to sit well. The reasons included personal rights and freedoms, costs, and anti-government and monopoly sentiments. Those opposed to home cultivation were very much in the minority, citing potential fire hazards and stolen hydro.

Is the government watching this public discourse? possibly. It is more likely that some of the people who advise individual politicians are paying closer attention to the issue, and that is why this interaction is critical. Politicians and their advisors pay even closer attention to public opinion in their own constituencies. They are always campaigning for re-election even when they are already elected. There is no job security in being an elected official, and less so if you adopt positions and policies contrary to those who are capable of firing you. With this in mind it would be helpful in the future when such clickbait generates comments to go directly to the source, such as The Toronto Star.

Social media can be a very effective instrument for change, but more so when it is used to its fullest and most effective potential. Sharing articles is good for getting the information out. If headlines are misleading or sensational or clickbait, post a disclaimer when you share. This will help others and will also steer the conversation in the right direction.

Comments are good, but in most cases you are preaching to the choir. Go to the source of the story and comment on their social media if you want to be heard by the influencers outside of your network. Sharing good information is great and not sharing bad information is also great. Cannabis clickbait is going to be a problem, but it is a problem we can control by not rewarding bad behaviour and instead rewarding only good journalism and reporting. We have a part to play in this and the media will need our help as much as the politicians will, they are listening.

Republished with permission from Canlio.