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Social media can reap political benefits

Over the past few years social media certainly has changed the way we interact with people. One time, you had to rely on postal mail or the telephone to contact people; these days you can email someone and they get it in seconds.

Facebook and Twitter have also changed the way we interact. Was a time after high school you wouldn’t see any of your friends anymore. Not now as, since 2007, I and many others have been able to keep up to date with high school friends and other people we haven’t seen in years. Twitter also allows us to keep up with our favorite celebrities and interact with them. I’ve interacted with people from one of my favourite TV shows, something I’d never be able to do without social media.

Politics is no different. Over the past number of years, a lot of our provincial MHAs have gotten Facebook and Twitter accounts. It’s a great tool to keep up to date with your MHA or, in my case, most of them. Of the 47 MHAs currently in the House of Assembly, I’m Facebook friends with 30 of them and am followed on Twitter by a few of them as well. It means a lot to me that they would add me to their Facebook and Twitter, and allows for some great interaction.

Still, there are problems that sometimes arise. Being a politician carries with it some responsibility. While most MHAs conduct themselves accordingly, you get the odd MHA who removes people from Twitter. I’ve had one, who I won’t name, remove me from Facebook because I criticized the Liberal party. To me, I criticize the party, I don’t criticize them on a personal level. I’ve also had a Liberal candidate block me from Twitter because I asked them about Liberal policy.

To me, those two incidents go against getting a Facebook and Twitter account and being a politician in the first place. You serve the people so, unless a person is being extremely nasty to you, don’t block them or remove them from Facebook.

When I asked a question to another Liberal candidate, I got a very well thought out and detailed response. I’ve also interacted with a few other Liberal MHAs who know my politics, but still welcome my viewpoints.

In the federal election this year, I’ve asked candidates in all 338 ridings their thoughts on issues facing those with disabilities. While I didn’t hear from all candidates, I did hear back from a nice few. It was good to hear back from them and, on election night, I’ll be watching their ridings to see how they do.

So yes, social media is a great thing and a big part of the 21st Century, and being a politician today, it’s how you handle it that matters.

Tony Ducey

Frenchman’s Cove

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