I’ve thought about this topic quite a bit over the last few years, especially as social media makes communication on topics of public interest extremely fluid. Everyone is, of course, entitled to his or her opinion, but I would argue that there are appropriate ways to express those opinions as well as ways that are terribly counterproductive. Here are a few suggestions based on approaches from both camps.
- If you have a legitimate question, please ask. Elected officials serve at the pleasure of the public, and staff members serve at the pleasure of the elected officials. It is our duty and responsibility to keep the public informed and create opportunities for engagement.
- If you have concerns about a project, give the person or people involved an opportunity to respond. Don’t assume you know all the answers without reading any source material, asking any questions, or attending any meetings on the subject.
- If you just can’t get behind a project, then don’t support it or use it. Vote for people who support projects that you like.
- If you feel left out or like your voice doesn’t matter, get involved. There’s a good chance that you can contribute something meaningful to the conversation.
- If you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, knock it off. Find something productive to do with your time.
- If your objective is to spread false information and get people stirred up, grow up. Better yet, cancel all of your social media accounts until you reach an appropriate mental age.
- If you’ve heeded every one of these suggestions but still feel like you should move, then move. Life is too short to be so unhappy.
Public officials are accountable to their constituents, so you should learn who represents you and get to know them. Don’t be overly critical until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Focus your energies on projects in your community so that you can maximize your impact.
As always, I welcome your feedback. The EDC’s objective is to encourage meaningful, sustainable community development—this requires both outside investment as well as existing stakeholders getting involved and helping shape Marble Falls into the best community it can be.