Social media – The good, the bad, and the ugly

8

by Tracy Stimpson

The first time I ever commented on social media was on this very website. 

I kept seeing Enerdu signs posted around town and I wanted to find out what it was all about.  Typing Enerdu into the search engine, an article from the Millstone was the first to pop up.  After reading the article, I went through all the comments posted in the comment section to judge what readers were feeling.

A few of the posted comments had nothing to do with Enerdu, they were regarding the Mayor’s poor grammar.  John Levi is a major part of Almonte and was the Mayor at the time.  I was shocked that people were making fun of him instead of sticking to the topic at hand.  I have always told my kids that complaining does nothing, taking action gets things done.  It was then that I decided to make my first post, defending Mayor Levi.

After that first post, I spent time analyzing people’s comments.  Some of the statements that were presented as fact seemed strange.  I would research the claimed facts and often would find that many claims of fact were rather opinions.

This is the “Bad” in social media.  When things are in print, they look like facts.  If you don’t take the time to investigate, the author of the post may sway you with opinions cloaked as facts.  The author may even believe their statement is fact when it is not.

I remember one day I saw my Aunt for the first time in years.  She looked thin.  I approached her with concern in my heart and said “Glenna, how are you doing, you’re way too skinny”?  She looked back at me with a smile on her face and said, “Maybe it’s that you’re way too fat!”  God I love that woman and she was correct.  Truth can be how you look at something from your perspective.

So, to summarize the bad of social media, don’t believe everything you read, not even this letter.  If something seems weird, investigate it further.

During my time posting on the Millstone in favor of Enerdu, I took it very personally.

With every post I made, I believed it was with the best of intentions.  I thought I was helping correct the “facts” that were posted by others.  Back then, I was one of the few that posted in favor of the project and I was posting on the “anti-Enerdu website” the Millstone.  Many were not pleased with me and it showed in the overall tone of the posts.  Lots of people put me down, made fun of me and basically tried to make my life difficult so I would stop posting.

I handled it like a professional. OK, maybe like a professional baby. OK, maybe just a baby.

I was terrible.  When someone would cut me up, I would give it back to them twice as hard and twice as mean.  It made me feel good for about a minute.  The thing I realized after a while was that when I lowered myself down to name calling, people stopped taking me seriously.

Even when I made good points, the critics would bring up the stupid posts I made and it would negate the valid posts.  Listen, I get it.  In my day to day life, not many people speak mean to my face.  Social media is a different story.  When your adversary is only a name on a page it is very easy to be mean to them.  Things are different when you find out your adversary is a real person with family and friends of their own.

That’s the “ugly” of social media. By not having physical contact with your fellow human, you don’t get to see the expression on their face when you hurt them.

In the past year I have tried to physically meet with my fellow man to discuss issues.  It’s a practice that I believe is positive.  If you have a cause that you are passionate about, calling people idiots and clowns does nothing to forward your cause.  It only makes you look bad.

I hold public officials to a high standard and will publicly question their actions when I believe they are not living up to their mandate.  What I will not do is call council names or degrade them.  They are your neighbors.  They perform a task that not many of us are up to.

If it was easy to be on council and it paid big bucks, hundreds would run, not 5 people for 4 spots (Almonte Ward).  As I stated earlier, I started on social media because I didn’t like what people were saying about Levi and I continue with our current Mayor.  If we continue being terrible to our municipal officials, the group of candidates for the next election will be even smaller.

And here’s the good in social media. In 2017, I made a concerted effort to use social media as an opening line, a way to say hello.  I think it’s sad that I have social media friends that I have never met in person.

That changed this year.  I have met several fantastic people through social media that I now get together regularly. I have been exposed to different people I normally would not hang around with and it’s fantastic.  It has restored my faith in humanity.  I saved the best for last, that’s the “good” of social media.

One more quick story for those that are concerned with the struggles in Almonte of late.  As mentioned above, I was very pro-Enerdu.  The day that construction began on the project I was outside cleaning stuff when a car pulled up.

This guy got out of his car, approached me and asked if I was Tracy Stimpson. Knowing that some were unhappy with me, I hesitantly agreed that yes in fact I was Tracy.  The gentleman extended his hand and said “Hello Tracy, I’m Brent Eades, glad to finally meet you in person. I want to say thanks for keeping your comments on the Millstone civil and constructive.” This was Brent Eades, the editor of the Millstone and a lead Enerdu opponent.

Two guys that were on total opposite sides of a debate standing in my driveway shaking hands.  I now consider Brent to be a very good friend of mine and we get together very often to discuss life’s troubles.  He’s still anti and I’m still pro Enerdu but WE RESPECT EACH OTHER.

The same goes for Nathan Rudyk.  We fought like cats and dogs during Enerdu, now we are friends.  After the crazy time that was Enerdu, if Brent, Nathan and I can all get along, why the heck is there so much anger and hate around Don Maynard Park.  Stop with the bad and ugly of social media and use it for the good.

Take the time and talk with your fellow citizen.  Even if they are on the opposite side of something you believe, you may just find they are cool, interesting and a positive input into your life.