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VC in the community

Visionary Conversations launches in the community

November 5, 2015 — 

Do cheaters get ahead? Do negative campaign ads really work? Does social media celebrate bullies?

The panelists at Visionary Conversations on November 4, 2015

The panelists at Visionary Conversations on November 4, 2015

A panel of experts tackled these questions and more last night at the first Visionary Conversations in the Community event of the 2015/16 season. The topic — Are we becoming a society of liars, cheats, bullies and thieves?” — prompted a thought-provoking and lively discussion among the panelists and the near-capacity audience at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Touching on everything from whether negative campaign ads helped propel Justin Trudeau to the Prime Minister’s office to a debate on whether we should stop trying to control doping in sport, the event shone a light on some of the behaviours challenging civility in our current society.

Panelist, Dan Lett, a columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press, pointed out that the rise of web bullies and public shaming is a result of the ability of online commentators to remain anonymous. While a vitriolic letter to the editor once took a typewriter and time and mail delivery, it can now be served anonymously with the click of the mouse.

Jae Eadie, former City of Winnipeg Councillor and former President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, agreed that while the political world has never been known for its civility and good graces, the rise of the 24/7 news cycle and the ability for everyone to comment has brought the cutthroat nature of the game to the forefront.

Fellow panelist, Dr. Andrea Rounce Associate Professor, Department of Political Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba and Academic Director, Manitoba Institute for Policy Research, noted that while political parties regularly use negative ads or public attacks to try to get an advantage over their competitors, the disagreeable tone of the conversation often has the reverse effect. These ads can be a catalyst for voter apathy, as they tune out the negativity. “It can backfire,’’ she said.

Christian Lunny, co-CEO of Dash Agency and a digital marketer, argued that social media is not always home to bullies and trolls. He believes the ability of candidates and other public figures to highlight their strengths and to show their personal side via social media attracts and mobilizes voters and supporters.

Lying and cheating in professional sports was another topic for the panel to debate. Sarah Teetzel, Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Undergraduate Education) in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, said public examples of athletes doping or cheating have led many fans to believe the problem is more pervasive than it truly is. “Even though it’s a small percentage of athletes (who cheat), the big scandals magnify our perception that dirty athletes are prevalent,” she said.

Thanks to everyone who attended the event. You can watch the event in its entirety and check out the online photo gallery. Join the conversation online at #umvisionary.

Mark your calendars: Visionary Conversations in the Community will be back February 24th, 2016 to discuss the topic: ‘Has Manitoba put the right value on post-secondary education?’

Visit the website for more event details and updates.

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