Saturday, September 5, 2020

Dad Advice: Social Media & The Internet

Maddie & Gracie,

Back in 2009, while running for City Council in Gloucester City (boy I looked really fat in that picture), I started writing articles for Cleary’s Notebook, a South Jersey news blog owned by former Gloucester City News publisher Bill Cleary. From those initial articles and through the many comments or essays I wrote in the years following, I was indoctrinated to the power of Social Media. What I found was in their best moments social media sites can announce good news, deliver insightful information, share happy moments of achievement in peoples’ lives, while keeping friends or families connected over long distances. In bad moments it can provide a window for direct comments, from mostly anonymous posters, that are mean spirited, combative, insulting, ill-informed, and even outright lying. To his credit, Mr. Cleary did filter out profanity, libelous statements, and personal attacks on family members from the blog’s comments. However, even with that level of censorship, a lot of room remained for waging character attacks, personal slights, outrageous insinuations, and bold-faced fabrications. I always appreciated Mr. Cleary for giving me that opportunity and the invaluable exposure.