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February 20, 2013
Between the Lines
Government and social media
WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- The horse is already out of the gate! I have at the very least a fairly strong disdain for social media. In fact I really don't like to talk on the phone except when it is necessary to get or exchange pertinent information. But as far as just chatting for lengthy periods, I find it difficult to find enough to say for very long. It is especially bad when you are talking to someone you talk with, on a regular basis. If it is someone I have not talked to for a fairly long time I usually can think of more things to talk about.
Getting back to social media. After the past couple of elections it is fairly evident that at least the younger block of voters rely heavily on social media to form their opinions. The only problem with that is that there can be a lot of misinformation out there, and most of those reading it take it as being gospel without checking it out in any way. Of course so called main stream media is not a whole lot better, You may find bias in their reporting, but generally the bias is mostly truthful in content. Although, depending on your political leaning, you might find one news source or the other, that you feel is more truthful.
Back to politics, I know that one of the problems with our political system is the advent of social media. Probably only a few of our elected officials don't use social media, but most do. The problem with that is they hardly ever meet face to face to discuss issues or just for interaction. Another problem is with OML (open meeting laws). Minnesota has some of the strongest open meeting laws in the country, but in a lot of cases officials at all levels don't know what they can and can't do when it comes to the OML laws. Of course the smaller the government unit the more these laws are broken, mostly due to ignorance of the law.
In the past I have witnessed probable technical breaches in the law, but I realize that in small government units it is not done to hide anything but out of necessity. But now with social media so easily accessed I fear the OML will be somewhat meaningless.
At the federal level I feel it is even more of a problem because congressional leaders seldom meet across the table nor do they rarely meet in social functions.
In the small media business our group of newspaper people meet once a year to open bids for printing the Southwestern Peach. Away from our joint venture we are all competing for our own local newspapers. But at this meeting we gather, not just as colleagues, but as friends. This face to face meeting allows us to settle differences of opinion in a civil manner. When you are friends, socially speaking, it makes it much easier to solve unique and common
In the past when we have had issues as a cooperative group, and not everyone always gets exactly what they might want, but when the issue is solved it usually is better for the group as a whole.
So if we could talk to our congressional leaders it would be great to remind them that they are working for the people, and not just their benefactors. Of course it would help if they would take less time off too!
I do have a twitter account but have never used it. I thought it would be perfect, I think you can only type 144 characters in a tweet. But then I don't know if I have ever said anything in 144 characters in my lifetime, except maybe, Oh crap, what's for dinner?, or Fire! not necessarily in that order.
Have a great week and do good!
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