Everyone in Golden cares about their community, and wants to see it get even better.
Although it is a very positive thing to have passion within the community, this often leads to nasty debates over competing interests.
I am not a Facebooker myself, but I am regaled almost daily by friends and co-workers discussing the latest battle raging on Golden Free Classifieds, or some other online community-based page.
Whether it’s the conflict of uses at Reflection Lake, or the concern over garbage being piled up near the recycling bins, online communication makes it far too easy to forget your manners.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a stakeholders meeting for the Resort Municipality Initiative Highway 1 Corridor Project.
The room was full of interested parties, who no doubt had competing interests. Tourism Golden, the Chamber of Commerce, politicians and business owners all sat at a round table, and politely discussed what they wanted to see come out of this project.
There were no insults, no tempered emotions, just constructive discussion and debate.
It made me realize how valuable face-to-face communication really is.
I remember last fall attending a similar meeting where the community got together to talk about mobile vending.
Although this meeting had some more emotional responses, it still remained very civil.
There is something about looking someone in the eye while you respond to something he or she said that just yields more respect.
It is far too easy to sit in front of a computer screen, typing the first thing that pops into your head, and forget that you are talking to a real person with real feelings.
I have heard it referred to as “Facebook Cojones” when people have the guts to say outrageous things they would never say in real life, behind the safety of their computer.
That is not to say that online communication has no value, or that everyone who uses it becomes nasty and disrespectful.
Facebook is a great way to start a conversation, or to get the word out on an important issue. But if you leave that conversation online, especially if it is regarding anything controversial, then the result is rarely constructive.
Facebook Cojones get out of control, and before you know it someone is suggesting you fill in Reflection Lake to make better dirt biking trails.
If there is an important community issue, why not suggest on Facebook that those interested get together for an open public meeting. Not only would it increase the civility around the discussion, it will also weed out the social media “devil’s advocates” who don’t really care about the issue at hand, but rather enjoy stirring the pot and watching things unravel.
I think you’ll find that issues are resolved much faster, and with much more constructive outcomes.