With the explosion of social media over the last 5 years, it seems like you can’t see anything or anyone without a reference to Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. Advertisements for products encourage you to “Like” them on Facebook and celebrities want to be “followed” on Twitter. All of these seem like great forms of networking, but there is one realm that has me questioning its’ benefits and efficiency: politics.
Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico, has a very active Twitter account, and President Obama uses both Twitter and Facebook to post about what he is doing and his upcoming 2012 campaign. U.S. Congressman and Senators alike use both forms to update constituents on legislation, debates, etc. But lets be honest…these representatives aren’t personally blogging, tweeting and posting. Most will even admit to it…they don’t have the time or the interest to personally do it. So why don’t we talk about the representatives on a local level, who don’t have the staff or budget to have someone do it.
The Georgia legislative session just wrapped up last week and I realized that I knew a lot of more than usual in terms of what was going on down at the Capitol this spring, mainly because it was all over my Facebook page. It seemed like every time I checked my page, my News Feed was flooded with minute by minute updates of what was happening RIGHT THEN. Seems like a positive, right? We constantly complain that politics is too secretive and too many decisions are made behind closed doors. But with constant updates, posting of pictures of each other on the Senate and House floors, one has to wonder…what did they actually accomplish down there this session??
I took note of several representatives who posted what day of the session it was and what was on the calendar. It then seemed to be followed up with a picture of the calendar, who was speaking and even a personal photo with someone who appeared that day. Sen John Albers and many representatives have Facebook pages that they update personally and use to keep in touch with the public. I think it would be worth your time to look at them and see if you think any of them were posting too much. (Hint: The answer is yes. I actually sat in a marketing meeting to discuss the use of social networking and one of the referenced legislators was frowned upon because of how excessive he had become.)
I actually saw a Senator complain that the last day of the session had a full calendar. If you have followed my blog at all, you would know that the Georgia Senate allocated TWO DAYS of Senate time (more like, tax payer time) to “honor” professional athletes. Maybe if they hadn’t done that, the calendar would have been a little more free for the final days to discuss important things like immigration (which passed, but in a painfully weak manner) and the budget. And if the calendar is so full, then stop posting every hour, get off Facebook and get to work!
I’m all in favor of Senators and Congressmen posting what was accomplished that day,but don’t you think that could be done at the end of the day? A nice summary of what happened, what bills were debated, etc etc. It is not necessary, however, to post every two hours that you had lunch with someone from your district, your kid visited (with an added photo) and that your wife just got bifocals! Frequent postings serve no purpose and are a WASTE OF TAX-PAYER DOLLARS. It seems to me that legislators have become too enthralled with the fame of being in the public spot light that they’ve forgotten that they are public servants and it isn’t all about the photos or opportunities to meet people they see as celebrities. Legislators get so caught up in “staying in the minds of constituents” that they end up portraying the message that they aren’t really doing anything down there at the Capitol, except adding friends and expanding their Mobile Uploads folder.
And lets face it…if they were really acting as “public servants” as so many of them like to remind us in their monthly newsletters, they wouldn’t have to tell us all of the things they have accomplished because they wouldn’t be looking for praise….They would simply being doing their jobs.