Opin­ion: Coun­cil­lor JULIE McKEN­ZIE on the pros and cons of so­cial me­dia

The Oban Times - - News -

IN RE­CENT weeks there has been much lo­cal de­bate on the topic of so­cial me­dia and specif­i­cally how you use it to put for­ward your views on the is­sues that mat­ter to all of us who live in the area.

This is a po­larised de­bate – there are al­ways two sides to ev­ery­thing, so I guess it is about per­spec­tive and how you per­ceive so­cial me­dia.

In my role as a coun­cil­lor, so­cial me­dia is all about me be­ing ac­ces­si­ble and ac­count­able to you.

It is a ma­jor tool in my kit which en­ables me to en­gage ef­fec­tively with you on a one-to- one ba­sis.

A con­ver­sa­tion on Twit­ter cer­tainly doesn’t take away from the face-to-face con­tact that comes on the doorstep or in a surgery, but it does pro­vide an ex­cel­lent method of quick com­mu­ni­ca­tion and in­ter­ac­tion.

So­cial me­dia as­sists me in be­ing a bet­ter elected mem­ber be­cause, let’s face it, that’s ex­actly what do­ing this job should be all about.

So­cial me­dia platforms also pro­vide a great place for healthy and some­times heated de­bate. In my ward I’m of­ten alerted to top­i­cal is­sues far quicker via this medium than any other.

It proves re­ally use­ful as it en­ables me quickly to see a va­ri­ety of view­points and en­gage in con­ver­sa­tions, which can re­ally help when it comes to gaug­ing pub­lic opin­ion and ar­riv­ing at a bal­anced view.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment ac­tively pro­motes so­cial me­dia as an es­sen­tial tool for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, and com­mu­nity coun­cils are be­ing en­cour­aged to use so­cial me­dia to bet­ter ef­fect.

Last week I held a surgery in Oban and not one per­son turned up. I know that’s not be­cause folk don’t have is­sues that need re­solv­ing, be­cause on the same day I had six peo­ple con­tact me di­rectly through Face­book Mes­sen­ger and Twit­ter.

This only serves to high­light that there is no rea­son why in to­day’s mod­ern and tech-savvy world you shouldn’t be able to con­tact your lo­cal elected mem­ber via a so­cial net­work.

It’s ac­ces­si­ble to all, quick, easy and fits around your day. And, for any­one who may not be able to get to an ap­point­ment, it can be an ab­so­lute life­line.

There is, how­ever, also a dark side and I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced this in the form of on­line abuse.

On the day I was told I’d been se­lected to stand for my party lo­cally as a can­di­date, amid the con­grat­u­la­tions came an im­por­tant warn­ing from a se­nior party fig­ure to ‘buckle up your flak jacket’.

I now know ex­actly what he meant. As a politi­cian, you will never please all of the peo­ple all of the time. How­ever, that said, there is a big dif­fer­ence be­tween en­gag­ing on­line with your lo­cal coun­cil­lor and abus­ing and ha­rass­ing them.

We are all hu­man at the end of the day. No- one is per­fect and we all make mis­takes. I try very hard never to say any­thing on so­cial me­dia that I wouldn’t say out loud.

So­cial me­dia mat­ters but please bear this in mind: hold your coun­cil­lor to ac­count ab­so­lutely but please also be kind.

Julie McKen­zie.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.