Speak wisely, act wisely and that wisdom will trickle down to the people you are there to serve.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 28th, 2018



Stu Parr, who is not a relative nor a friend – we’ve never met; made a very cogent point in a comment he posted on the Gazette.

He was responding to another reader over the direction he thought the current municipal council might take and said:

“However, if they do see the “light of day” it will probably be a Facebook posting followed by several twitter and Instagram feeds.

“Governance by social media seems to be the rule of the day. One often wonders the depth of what lies beneath.”

Parr is a little too close to the truth for comfort. The photo op is being replaced by heavy use of social media.

Twitter logoOur hope here at the Gazette is that we will get more than a picture, more than 140, or 280 Twitter characters if they went for the upgrade.

We would like to see comments with some depth and ideas that were part of the promise when the city all but cleaned out the 2014-2018 city council.

The voter turnout was disappointing, the mandate this council has is not as deep as it could have been. Did people not care? Did they not know what the issues were ?

Given the scope of what the issues were that turnout should have been in excess of 55% – something Burlington has never done in the past.

facebook-logoPhoto ops, Facebook mentions, tweets and Instagram’s are not going to educate people. There is a guy to the south of us who uses tweets like oxygen to keep himself alive – and look where that has gotten them.

The previous city council felt that if the kept making puff-ball statements (remember when we were the best mid-sized city in the country) over time they would be seen as true – until the facts – or a ballot box told them otherwise.

Speak wisely, act wisely and that wisdom will trickle down to the people you are there to serve.

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4 comments to Speak wisely, act wisely and that wisdom will trickle down to the people you are there to serve.

  • Stephen White

    Marshal McLuhan once said “the medium is the message”, meaning that in a symbiotic relationship the medium profoundly impacts how the message is interpreted by the audience. Social media is an outgrowth of a technological mindset which seeks to form multiple connections with others, and to deliver information faster. Unfortunately, accuracy, reflection and interpretation are not characteristics or traits promoted or reinforced through social media.

    Content, incisive analysis and substance can rarely be distilled to a 280 character Tweet. Anyone who doubts that only has to view the incoherent ramblings of the man in the Oval Office of the White House to realize that. Persons seeking enlightenment and understanding need to actually spend time reading and engaging in meaningful discourses and exchanges with others. That could occur face-to-face, or it could occur through an online forum like Burlington Gazette where readers can post observations and others can voluntarily participate and provide feedback. But to expect a medium designed around principles of speed and scalability to offer depth or profundity is a stretch.

    • Stu Parr

      With all due respect Mr. White, that was really not my point. I believe in all channels of communication and their appropriate and effective use – including twitter, facebook and the whole range of social media options. However, I also want some ‘gravitas’ to governance and decision-making. Today I fear we live in a world of continuous executive summaries and selfies, of event photo-ops rather than appreciations. My opinion only. And I was actually a student of both McLuhan and Frye.

  • Jan Mowbray

    I realize the article is about the use of social media but another essential piece of being a councillor (or other elected official) is to keep an open mind. Circumstances change, information accumulates. Closed minds serve no one well.

  • joe gaetan

    Twitter as an example, when used properly can be a useful and timely way to share meaningful information with those who follow COB or a particular councilor or the Mayor. Like other forms of communication, when the message become banal, followers will stop following. And yes, as of late many on council are sharing the same messages.