Let’s talk politics.
Over the last few days, there has been a story circulating in Halifax about a certain politician and his social media habits. Here’s the basic story.
An RCMP officer ticketed a citizen for using their ATV to plow a driveway. Their ATV was, at some point, in the road and they were ticketed $406 for this violation of the motor vehicle act. The city councilor who represents that citizen (and in fact also represents the RCMP officer) took to social media to express his displeasure with this ticket and used some choice hashtags, including #GetaLife and #PowerTrip to describe his opinion of the officer’s actions.
I’m not going to get into who was right or who was wrong. I’ve established my opinion pretty clearly on social media. Instead, I’m going to take this opportunity to discuss Matt Whitman’s actions purely from a business perspective because when it comes down to it, that’s what being a politician is. It’s a job. You might do it for the right reasons or you might do it for the wrong reasons but you have duties and someone pays you. That is a job.
Someone asked today whether or not councilors receive any social media training. Their suggestion was that Matt should have known better than to make such publicly inappropriate comments on a platform that’s so publicly visible. His actions seemed to go against the city’s policy on social media activity in that it failed to meet the high moral standard put in place for city councilors. His peers made him apologize to the city for his inappropriate comments. Obviously, if Matt had received proper social media training (PS I would be happy to provide the city with said training) he would have never acted so unprofessionally…
This is not Matt’s first run in with the (social media) law. When he was running for office, he decided to block anyone that wasn’t appropriately positive and I railed on him about it. This resulted in myself being blocked by our Deputy Mayor. I was, as you can imagine, devastated at the loss. And yet I soldiered on.
Eventually, I came to believe that Matt was a pretty good guy who cared deeply for his community and might occasionally make some decisions I didn’t agree with. And over a period of time I was unblocked by the great and powerful councilor. I spoke with Matt via social media and suggested to him that while I did not agree with all of his actions and opinions, I respected his passion and appreciated him unblocking me.
I don’t believe that Matt is a stupid man. What Matt said on social media in the first place made him a hero to a great number of his constituents. THEN he became a martyr as he was forced to “apologize” for his actions by his peers. The outcry on social media was clear. While a few individuals suggested that Matt was bat guano crazy, the general consensus was that Matt had acted in the best interest of his constituents in the first place. People suggested that it was about time that a politician spoke like a human being. People insisted that it was about time that a politician stood up for them.
I believe that Matt’s actions and his subsequent public scolding only serves to cement his position within the community. If Halifax ran rating polls like the US does for the president, his numbers would be soaring today.
To those that suggest that the Deputy Mayor requires social media training, I say this. First, I’d be happy to provide Matt Whitman and any of Halifax’s city councilors with social media training. Second, Matt Whitman does not need social media training. Matt Whitman is gonna be just fine. His “brand” is in fact greatly improved by this “gaffe” and businesses and politicians alike would do well to study this sort of social media “misstep”.