Talking trash online gets old

Specht

An analysis piece by Melinda DeSlatte of the Associated Press talks about lawmakers, and their supporters, taking to Twitter to pontificate about their position, often getting nasty in the process.

“The trash-talking on social media has reached a fever pitch as lawmakers bicker — in 280 characters or less — over their philosophical points ahead of the tax session called by Gov. John Bel Edwards to begin next week, aimed at closing a $1 billion budget gap and avoiding deep cuts,” DeSlatte said.

“Many lawmakers, policy analysts, lobbying groups and governor’s office staff have decided to engage in finger-pointing exchanges about who’s to blame for Louisiana’s fiscal woes and whose positions will move the state beyond the financial morass.”

Citizens of Minden are not immune from similar antics. One visit to many of the “Concerned Citizens” groups on Facebook is proof of that. Discussions often digress into name-calling and conspiracy theories, usually aimed at elected officials.

While not exactly “hiding” behind their keyboards, these modern-day commentators create a whirlwind of emotions, generally with one piling on the other.

What is the ultimate goal here?

As a proponent for the first amendment, I certainly acknowledge the right of a person or persons to freely express themselves. And those in the public office need a thicker-than-normal skin these days.

All that being said, I find it disingenuous when the people complaining the loudest do not avail themselves of the governmental process. Often, the commentary starts and stops online.

I have attended countless City Council, Police Jury, School Board and other public meetings, expecting to witness the public outcry I saw on Facebook, only to be disappointed when the “squeaky wheels” failed to show up to the meeting.

As I peruse the agendas for each of these meetings, there is an item listed on each of them: “Public Comment.” Yet, the public rarely shows up to comment.

For those that have been caught up in the whirlwind of negativity and escalating comments about this, that, and the other, I encourage you to show up to a meeting or two. Do a little research about your issue. Ask some questions of your elected officials — in person.

It’s time everyone worked toward solutions. If a solution cannot be reached, then use the power of the ballot box. If you think you can do better, throw your hat into the ring. But do something besides just trash talking.

Trash talking, especially online, is just that — trash.

David Specht Jr. is editor and publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.

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