“Yes we Cohen”

Just after the announcement of Cohen’s succession to the PvdA party leadership, the phrase “Yes we Cohen” (coined in obvious imitation of another catch phrase used by senior politicians in largish Western countries) made the rounds of the newspapers and blogs. I dismissed it as an invention of some PvdA campagin committee and didn’t blog about it.

Yesterday, however, I heard the real story behind “Yes we Cohen.”

It turns out the phrase was invented by a girl I know from the pub, J. She had nothing to do at work, watched Bos’s press conference, and when he announced Cohen she immediately became enthousiastic, being a social-democrat at heart.

In a flash J. invented “Yes we Cohen” and sent it to a few friends on Facebook. One of those encouraged her to create a Facebook fan page, and she did so. It was all a joke at that point.

And then all of a sudden it was more than just a joke. Journalists evidently picked up the phrase, Facebookers all over the country did so, too, and in slightly more than a week the fan page won 12,000 followers.

Unfortunately J. is not well versed in social media studies. She neglected to snap up the domain name, which was claimed by the local PvdA chapter in Tilburg, with the intention to present it to Cohen at some future date. The journalists who wrote about ithad no idea of the true source of the phrase, either.

She was asked for interview after interview, but refused. She doesn't see herself as a political activist, just as a PvdA voter who's happened to have had a bright idea. Thus the writing press went in search of other sources, and found some in the PvdA, as well as some detractors who thought the phrase was ridiculous etc. etc.

Meanwhile J. was left to “discuss” stuff with the usual gang of proto-trolls that infest Facebook pages; something she quickly tired of and gave up.

J. doesn’t really care (though I advised her to contact me quickly if something similar ever happens again; at least I know roughly what to do at such a point). Still, the fact that the PvdA Tilburg is now going to present the domain to Cohen rankles — a little bit. She doesn’t want any money or anything, she’s happy to support her party, but she would like some recognition — maybe even from Cohen himself.

Anyway, that’s how we got “Yes we Cohen.” I expect this episode to become a footnote in some thesis about social media use in political campaigns.

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This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer, in Amsterdam. It’s a hobby blog where he follows Dutch politics for the benefit of those twelve foreigners that are interested in such matters, as well as his Dutch readers.


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