Of the social media ventures I’ve undertaken, I think my favourite is the Mr. PG fanpage. I made it two years ago when fan pages were relatively new, basically because it didn’t exist. I sent an invite to a few friends, and left it at that. Within days, there were hundreds of fans, it was mere months before it hit 1,000, and it currently sits at over 4,000. I do very little with it other than add photos and the odd bit of Mr. PG news. I don’t want to turn it into a platform for anything other than for people to express their admiration for Prince George’s faux-wood mascot. I’ve become the de facto social media spokesperson for a forty-year-old symbol of Prince George, and I’m not going to muck it up by pushing any sort of agenda– no promoting non-Mr. PG related events, pages, or people, no matter how worthy they might be. Stick to the message: he’s a big replica of a wooden man who currently stands at the intersection of Highways 97 and 16, greeting visitors to the city.
I think it’s this philosophy that lets the community surrounding Mr. PG flourish. People write on the wall commenting about how they feel about Mr. PG and the city he stands for. While some of it is negative, some is juvenile, the overwhelming number of comments are things along the lines of “I love Mr. PG!” My favourites are stories about Mr. PG back in the day, be it the niece of the guy who played Mr. PG in the Grey Cup parade, or just people who have moved away and say that whenever they see Mr. PG, they know they’re home. It’s nice to give people a platform to express positive sentiments about the city when so much of the online chatter is negative.
I also think that people in Prince George have reached a point where they actually DO feel pride about Prince George. Some people seem to be embarrassed at being represented by a wooden lumberjack, but many more seem to view him as an important symbol of the city’s foundations as it moves into the 21st century. Rapid globalization has made people look for things that anchor them in a particular locale, here in Prince George Mr. PG is one of the most potent symbols of where we are. Celebrating and reinterpreting what that means is a big part of what’s happening on the Mr. PG fanpage. I love seeing the stuff people come up with, and hope the community continues to grow.
photo: Mr. PG mural for Studio 2880 by Irene Fyvie. 8′ X 4′ acrylic on wood