NOAS Ark in the time of Advent

As the year draws to an end, the Norwegian organisation for asylum seekers (NOAS) can smile broadly. They grabbed the folk goat by its horns and staged a PR-stunt against the unpopular immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug. NOAS got well known actor Kristoffer Joner to ask Facebook users to donate to NOAS, who would there upon send a thanks giving post card to the immigration minister. Joner cast his Facebook initiative as a protest against Listhaug´s tasteless advertising of deportations of asylum seekers, For example, Listhaug was overtly jubilant about a Norwegian speaking child being returned to the streets of Kabul.

A couple of weeks later, NOAS has cashed in over 4 million kroner in donations following this PR-stunt. The stunt caused a lot of controversy, as it involved a PR-agency as well, thereby blurring the private impression of Mr. Joner´s outcry. Listhaug, who herself uses Facebook to boost her image as a policy maker, derided this and appealed to the common folk´s sense of right and wrong, But ironically enough, Listhaug herself has professional work experience from the communications bureau First House, along with so many other former politicians. NOAS had the last laugh, earning an ever larger following, by using the same medium as the controversial immigrant minister. Yet recently, Listhaug followed up with her own fund raising campaign, asking for donations to help Christian refugees who have fled from Syria and Iraqa and are residing in make shift refugee camps in the neighbouring areas. Many are shouting hypocrisy, not least because Listhaug is first in line to deny the same refugees access to Norwegian territory.

From the other side of the Atlantic, the use of social media was also prominent in this year´s presidential campaign. President elect Donald Trump, made it his trade mark to communicat in short little messages on Twitter, causing a stir occasionally about his foul language. It is really ironic how the social media invades the standard mass media formats like news papers and television. It´s as if a president candidate of old sent a lot of short telegrams getting the first page in the evening paper! Nevertheless, the difference is that there is a large live audience who see these short telegram like messages as they happen. Thereafter, the mass media follow the trail and expose it further. It is a strange, post modern cycle.

NOAS` witty and successful stunt showed that activism can be worth while. Other Internet based activists group like Avaaz.org, use Facebook and Twitter to the fullest to stage global demonstrations, protests and campaigns against detrimental policies. On the other hand, Donald Trump uses his witty tongue and social media to further himself through populist rhetoric. Listhaug likewise, though without the humour and punch lines. Regardless of their political skin tone, they may all be well liked. Liked by many, in accordance with the populist character of social media as such.

As Christmas makes its advance and preparations are being made, be sure that the social media will attempt to make reality reflect them. Listhaug, Trump or maybe their adversaries will try to create an exciting link between their status updates and the complex reality outside, come rain or shine or Christmas. Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy the holidays in your own private manner without further disturbance. Alternatively, you may merely block LIsthaug out from your account.

- Sheila Parrera