I’m always ambivalent about using legislation to change behaviour. You have to be smart about it; blanket bans can wind up backfiring. (Memo to self: confirm there’s no legislation banning blankets.)
But my immediate reaction to the proposal in Ontario to ban marketing junk food to kids is pretty unambiguous: go for it.
Here’s where I should run through the public health evidence supporting such a ban (for instance, after a similar ban in Quebec, fast-food purchases fell 13%). And where I should acknowledge the need for a broader set of policies in addition to legislation.
But instead, I’m just going to tell you that I have an overwhelming bias on this score: a deep-seated, unshakeable hatred for candy stands at checkout counters. Specifically, the candy stands that sit – in store after store after store after store – at kids’-eye level.
Five years ago this summer, in a boardroom at Vancity, William Azaroff was unveiling a new online community to an audience of Vancouver-area bloggers — a community we had worked with Vancity to conceive, build and launch. Also in attendance (maybe explaining his later affection for computers and gadgets): our one-week-old second child.
Today, that child is his own amazing human being, and if you get me started on just how wonderful he is, I won’t shut up — which is parental pride at work.
And I feel a shadow of that parental pride toward that online community we were launching half a decade ago this month, called ChangeEverything.ca.
When you create an online social project, and then step back and let your client run with it, it’s not that different from watching a beloved child leave home as a young adult. You fret, you worry, you check in… but most of all, you can’t wait to see who (or, in the case of our online communities, what) they become.
Three of the online projects we’ve helped to build over the past few years passed some pretty important milestones recently — kind of the equivalent of hearing that a grandchild is on the way.
With one project, it’s a profound transformation; with another, a rebirth; and with a third, a huge step forward to a whole new level of impact.
We’ll be blogging about each one over the next few days. But for now, I’m struck by how apt the comparison is between building a community and raising a child.
You can provide infrastructure (whether it’s a server or a house). You can manage content (blog posts or books, videos or video games). You can monitor metrics (analytics or report cards) and respond accordingly. You can offer guidance, set and enforce rules, and give them all the love in the world.
But in the end, you can neither determine nor predict where they’ll go. It may be that they veer off in a much different direction than you’d planned, or surprise you with some completely unexpected ability. They will become their own amazing, astonishing, wonderful organism.
And you won’t be able to shut up about them.
‘Tis the season and all that, and this time of year I find myself thinking a lot about my parents. This is exactly the sort of thing they’d have said (if my childhood had been, oh, 20 or 30 years later), and it would have driven me CRA-ZEE.
Funny thing: It’s also exactly the sort of thing I find myself saying to my own kids.
And speaking of ’tis the season, thanks and all the best to all of you who’ve read, tweeted, forwarded and commented on Noise to Signal this year. Have a great holiday if you’re celebrating, and just have a lovely week or two if you aren’t.
There is no politician more cynical,
no con artist more charming,
no lobbyist more ingratiating,
no general more calculating,
no criminal more devious,
no advertiser more manipulative…
…than a three-year-old trying to avoid bedtime.