Candidate Question #2
Vitriol. It’s a loaded word meaning ‘cruel and bitter criticism.’ It is a word that some may feel is not appropriate for the following question. The Current disagrees. Pot shots and perceived personal deficiencies aimed at public figures happen in our online world. Hence the following question.
Does social media vitriol directed at elected officials worry you?
From a personal perspective I am not worried about it being directed at me. It’s extremely difficult to offend me. In a general way though, I find it highly concerning. Not just municipally, but at every level of government, in every democracy in the world. Not just vitriol, but slander, ‘fake news’ etc on social media is making it harder and harder to discern the line between fact and fiction. Here in Revelstoke, things are not as bad as they are in the wider world. However, because we are a small town and tight-knit community, what people say and think about you does matter.
There is also the question of the collateral damage inflicted on the loved ones of our elected officials who also can get dragged into the maelstrom of a Stoke List rant, or Facebook post. They can also be stopped on the street and be questioned over their partners actions. In conversation these past four years with a variety of people, I have heard various profanities directed at ‘council’ and their ineptitude. Only to be followed by the question, “Who is on council anyways?” It’s unfortunate that our elected officials must endure attacks and suffer both personally and professionally. I feel it is a contributing factor to why many choose not to run. I definitely do not agree with all past council decisions, nor the visions articulated by the aspiring council candidates.
I do believe that a vast majority of our councillor’s hearts are in the right place, and they have the best of intentions. Much (not all) of the vitriol on social media and in person is rooted in ignorance. Communication and consultation may well be our best defense.
How you approach social media is up to each individual. I don’t have an issue with it. As a university educated Truck Driver that used to clean washrooms at a truck stop, I can communicate with anyone on their level. I try to determine the source of their hostility. It is usually a deep-rooted passion for the subject that is incorrectly communicated. It can be a gateway to further discussion.
The social vitriol directed at elected officials and city staff for that matter does worry me, especially when a commentator hides behind anonymity. They should always identify themselves so they can be scrutinized by their peers.
Criticism and feedback that relate to candidates and or elected officials’ platforms and or intentions is an integral part of our democracy. I believe that the best ideas come from when people work together and collaborate with one another. Feedback on social media should be limited to issues relevant to the city, should remain respectful and not be made personal.
No, I wouldn’t say I’m worried about receiving backlash on social media. I understand that not everyone is going to agree with me all the time ,and I think it’s healthy to have constructive conversations that help reveal different perspectives. I’m not in this to serve my ego, and I don’t take things personally, so I think that’s another reason I’m well suited for the job. People are going to be passionate about different issues and I respect that.
Having worked in senior levels of government, I am well aware of good, bad and ugly use of social media in politics. I have been a target of internet trolls. Before deciding to run I took into consideration the risk and reality of social media and the potential intrusion into personal life. My reasons for running far outweighed the risk of social media vitriol.
The new council can mitigate the risk of social media attacks by leveraging the opportunities in social media keeping all stakeholders informed and engaged. There are good examples of public agencies using social media very effectively. Encouraging public engagement through social media also encourages the public to self monitor bad behaviour on these platforms. The City of Revelstoke administration already utilizes Facebook to communicate; we have a good base to build upon.
Yes, on two fronts. The anonymity of The Stoke List allows everyone to criticize without the benefit of knowing who this person is or if they even have the knowledge to base their comment on.
Secondly, people can tell their story on social media – factual or not – and due to privacy and legal issues, Councillors are unable to respond or set the facts straight. Then some community members firmly believe that a Councillor’s lack of response means that the story others are spinning must be true – well, probably NOT!
Vitriol? The often anonymous or distant commentary associated with social media does cause some concern. Everyone has an opinion and can express it openly on today’s assortment of social platforms. With the constraints of traditional conversation or reporting removed, dialogue is open for half-truths, bias, and misinformation. Respect and common decency can also be a casualty of the anything goes social banter.
Being a target isn’t an aspiration for me; standing up and being counted is. My goal is to represent Revelstoke with integrity and a progressive outlook. If elected, I’ll absorb as much information as possible and make decisions with Revelstoke’s best interest at heart.
It does worry me because it robs us all of our collective sense of dignity and oneness, and it typically polarizes an issue in ways that get in the way of real solutioning. No one serves office at this level for the money but rather because they care. Hard on the problem is okay; hard on the people is not. Pure and simple – treat others as you would have them treat you.
Vitriol hurts everyone and not just those it is directed at.
Vitriol around the world worries me. The commentary in Revelstoke is not as bad as elsewhere, but that’s the direction we’ll go if we don’t all stand up for each other with facts. It warmed my heart to see the mass of supportive comments recently on local Facebook groups like Revy Rentals and Revelstoke Community, but we’ve all seen the nastiness that gets these threads started.
The blame game belongs in a school yard, with teachers around to shut it down. As adults, we’re supposed to be better than that. As neighbours, we should be giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
When we see an action or comment that we disagree with, we should express our disagreement with supporting information, then look for rational discussion so we can all get more educated. We should not make assumptions and spout rhetoric about the other person’s skills or motivation and not chase a solution that is outside the realm of reality.
I want our community to be strong and united to face the challenges that come with rapid growth. Each group may have diverse views, but they have the right to feel heard. Not everyone will be pleased with decisions of council, but once a concern has been properly responded to, we all need to accept the compromises needed to run a city.
I don’t expect us to sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya, but I do expect us to come to grudging agreements that maintain a basic respect within our community.