Chris’s Corner: A New Year’s Resolution

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By: Chris Voccio

Niagara Falls City Councilman

Depending on when you’re reading this column (I’m writing it during the last weekend of 2019, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when a new mayor will be sworn in along with a new Council member and a new Council Chairman.)

There’s been a lot of social media chatter related to the recently-passed garbage fee, the city budget, the recent elections, not to mention all of the other issues swirling around local and national politics.

Some of the discourse has been nothing short of atrocious. The demonization of people with differing views on various topics has become far too toxic. The language, and the casual accusations made about good people who we may disagree with, is disgusting.

As you may know, I am a Republican who believes in limited government and low taxation. But the idea that people who may differ with me or other elected officials on any number of issues or ideas are somehow evil, or unworthy, is disturbing.

And the idea that everyone in a particular party must march lockstep together is counterproductive to say the least.

There are differences within parties all the time. I have often voted with one or two members of the other party, and I’ve written previously that this diversity of thought within parties is natural and healthy. And remember, most Council votes are unanimous, with all of us agreeing on the issue at hand.

But now, with the proliferation of social media, it appears we’re breaking up into splinter groups, with litmus tests that must be passed to avoid being attacked.

There was a time, before the advent of social media, when we would all think thoughts that we would never share. We would be embarrassed that we even thought them, and we would never utter them aloud. Even our closest friends and family members wouldn’t know what had popped into our heads.

But now, with a social media account and a smartphone, we rush to put those thoughts on the worldwide web for all to see. What a crime against humanity it would be not to share our most inner thoughts with the entire world. Our anger, our rage, all of our emotions, unchecked by thought or judgment. It must all be shared. Immediately.

Some of this craziness has spread to our City Council meetings, during the public speaking portion of the meeting, and sometimes throughout the entire meeting. While most speakers and attendees speak with decorum and the respect for others you would expect in a deliberative assembly in the United States of America, some speakers bring something entirely different to the podium. And sometimes we hear muttered comments from attendees which are disruptive of the meetings and create unnecessary distractions for citizens who want to watch the people’s business being conducted.

It isn’t a good sign.

So as we enter 2020 with a new mayor, a new administration, a new Council member and a new Council majority, let’s resolve to be more reflective and put some thought into what we post on social media, how we behave at Council meetings (and everywhere else) and what language we use, whether talking with someone sitting in front of us or typing away on our phones.

Let’s agree to put a little more thought into the things we say, and write. Let’s all remember that the sun will still rise in the morning, even if we don’t share our every compelling thought or say what pops into our heads at any given moment.

And let’s be optimistic for Niagara Falls, under new leadership and with abounding opportunities for a brighter future.


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