Things that make me say “om”

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling, lately, and about its presence in the wider world.

AND, I spent much of last week being highly entertained by the Om the Bridge fiasco. For those of you who aren’t Vancouverites, Om the Bridge was an attempt to close the Burrard Bridge for a massive yoga gathering on July 21st, International Yoga Day.

However, July 21st also happens to be National Aboriginal Day. That caused a fracas. Then people figured out that the BC government was supporting Om the Bridge with $150,000, at the exact same time they were suggesting that the Vancouver School Board close 19 schools to save money. And finally, the event was being co-sponsored by Liberal donors/yoga/yogawear companies and, for some reason, Atlagas.

There was a massive Twitter uproar, led in part by:

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 9.00.01 PM

The event was cancelled.

What I find interesting is the way that, in the space of a few days, the story entirely changed. It was supposed to be (I assume) a story about how fun and quirky we Vancouverites are and about how beautiful Vancouver looks from the Burrard bridge, especially once a bunch of Lululemon-clad bottoms are doing downward dog. Amidst all those bottoms, presumably Christy Clark and Altagas were going to look fun and quirky, too.

But thanks to social media, the story changed. It became a tale of corporate interests vs. respect for First Nations, and public relations funds vs. education spending.

Many times, when we favourite a tweet about a particular cause, or retweet a petition link, we’re succumming to laziness more than we’re actually participating in democracy. But this weekend showed what Twitter can do well. It can act like one of those elementary school writing games, where one kid starts a sentence, then another adds, then a third…

It can take a basic idea, examine it from 974 million angles, and reinvent the story entirely.