I have been giving a great deal of thought to how I will communicate – both during this campaign and after the election. Effective engagement is a key concern for me. Engagement that leads to results. As part of a more robust engagement policy, online communication is important.

I want people to be able to feel free to contact me from their cell phone. To message me via email or text as well as message me on Facebook, linkedIN or twitter. And to PHONE ME. 🙂

When it comes to posting and responding on social media… trying to discover public opinion through Facebook is not something many politicians are in favour of. This is not generally because they are afraid of disagreement, debate or conflict. Rather it is because Facebook communication is not an effective media for politics nor for effecting change in the ‘real world’.

So first, how I welcome your input and ideas and questions:

Text or call my cell phone: 705-896-1370
Note, if I am in a coaching session with a client I will have my phone on Do Not Disturb. If it goes straight to voicemail, send me a text and I will call you back as soon as I am free.
Feel free to email or text me to schedule a conversation as well. Got a lot of ideas and want to discuss them over coffee? Great. Let me know.

Email me: cher@chercunningham.com

Message me through my campaign page: https://www.facebook.com/CherCunningham2018/
I will check for messages daily – provided I am not away with my family.

I will be adding videos to my Youtube Channel in September. Feel free to subscribe now so that you will be notified. Youtube Channel

Now, some rationale behind why I do not feel social media is an adequate medium for reasoned debate and policy decisions.

First, officially recorded public opinion is the type of data that can, and may, change the town.

I could stop there. When you use your energy to post to Facebook, how likely are you to email or call the town office or your councillor to actually engage the wheels of change?

Next, Facebook does not provide context or background for the discussion. When, as over the past week, I see an elected official post to Facebook, it raises much different questions in me that the original question by the poster.

  • What is the actual purpose of posting this?
  • Why post completely out of context on Facebook?
  • Why are you not sharing a link to detailed background information?
  • What are your opinions and ideas – and why are you not sharing them?
  • Is this something that is coming up for public input?
  • If not, are you implying that the public process was not followed and should be reopened? If so, why not say so?
  • What will make the feedback you receive from your post valuable?
  • How will those who comment know that they were heard and their time was well spent in crafting their considered and thoughtful responses?

In general, I do not see the value of posting political questions to Facebook. Some exceptions?

  • Post – future issues in a proactive manner.
  • Post – proposals for change? maybe.
  • Post – notices, links to deep data and process timelines, background information, even ideas and opinions.
  • Post – before the public input process in order to engage the citizens proactively.
  • Post – dates, format of meeting, ideas to think about.
  • Post – rationale behind the initiative.
  • Post – results? Maybe… but those actually belong on the (hopefully) re-designed, easy to use, responsive municipal website… in context where we can see specific measurable goals, progress toward those goals and all of the related documentation.

The risk – people will feel ignored because this is not official public input but is still an elected representative and that distinction can be missed.

When nothing happens, this becomes proof that “the Town” is not listening, but we need our citizens at public meetings, on  the phone or email to their staff or council – to their official town email address, writing proactive letters of support or concern,

Facebook is a filtered community.

A Facebook profile is filtered further.

The person writing the question further distorts what results may be received.

i.e. Is this person a survey designer? Is this a well-written survey question? or is it leading?

Is this a legitimate discussion if it just starts with a question and no opinion? The one who poses the questions gets to frame the whole argument. But should they also dodge it? That is often what happens.

Does a deeply engaged debate between 50 people actually reflect the mood of the community of 17,000?

Is there value in encouraging people to be reactive?

Are the opinions people share on a forum like Facebook representative of the way the respondents actually experience “real life”? Or do they feel obliged to have a bigger emotional opinion on Facebook? When emotions grow, resources shrink. People become stressed by the emotion – especially out of context and where there is a fear they will be ignored. This stress pushes them out of the part of their brain where creativity, collaboration and connection skills reside. Their comments lose cogency and deliberation and get ‘louder’ rather than more impactful. While this may not be how you behave on Social Media, I am sure you have had the opportunity to witness many examples of this on a daily basis… intelligent, capable people whose real opinions would garner great respect switching to more inflammatory and exaggerated messaging that adds nothing toward a solution.

I would far rather engage in 100 respectful phone conversations in a month than fire up the ire caused by comments out of context that have no impact on policy.

So you may see me share ideas and information on a Facebook post, however you will see me avoid flames, accusations, escalating emotion. If I leave a thread you want my input on… phone me.