Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Guest Post: Blog Reflects the Voice of the People

Posted by auroracitizen on October 27, 2010

More than once, someone has visited this blog and referred to its posters as a group — either using terms like “groupthink” or saying that this is a “pro-somebody” blog or an “anti-somebody-else” blog.

I can see why it might look that way. I can see how a new visitor here might wade through some of the postings — particularly the more political postings — and feel like the poor new kid stepping into a ritzy private school where everyone knows the “in” jokes and the cool kids run the lunch-room.

It probably feels like we’re all of a single mind, wearing the same tee shirts, drinking the same Kool-Aid. The truth is, I’m an occasional poster on this blog, and I’ve never met any of the others here. Not a one. I wouldn’t know them if I tripped over them on Yonge Street. I wear my own tee shirts and drink my own drinks.

I post here through the kindness and generosity of the blog owners and moderators. The mere fact that I have actually read those postings about “groupthink” or the blog being “pro-somebody” shows that the blog-owners are not, in fact, promoting a single-minded outlet reserved for only one tailored view.

In past months — maybe in past years — there has been a veritable river of strong opinion on this blog with respect to members of our town council. That, I believe, reflects the sheer frustration of many residents toward the actions and words of our previous council.The blog did not manufacture the frustration — au contraire — the blog has provided a never-before-available place for the frustrated to talk about their frustration.

It is not “groupthink”. It is not an orchestrated attack on anyone. The blog has provided a slate for the honesty of outraged voices. At the same time, it has also provided an outlet for some who were content with the prior political line-up. If it appeared that the outraged populace heavily outweighed the contented ones, well, that only reflects the audience — those local residents who were outraged, who happened to surf the Internet looking for information and who decided to post their opinions clearly outweighed those who were content with the status quo.

How do I know this? Certainly not because I know the blog-owners or bought into anybody else’s agenda. I know this because — like I said — I’ve seen far too many postings that I disagree with. I know this because nobody here knows who I am. Nobody has told me what to think or what to post. I just showed up one day, uninvited, and started typing.

I don’t see this blog as being much different than letters to the editor of a newspaper. The difference is, here in the blog, people can quickly and easily comment on the opinions of others. Anyone can write the editorial of the week — like this one. And nobody’s buying full-colour weekly ads — there is no worry that the opinions of the audience might offend those who financially support the venue.

It’s human nature to lump people into groups: soccer moms, liberals, rednecks, hippies and puffed-up-business suits. People don’t like to admit that they make generalizations, but it’s not necessarily a hateful trait. It’s simply our brains providing shortcuts by which we can process information about people.

I don’t think the posters on this blog can be so easily shaped into a shortcut. Each of us is too different from the others. Some people here know other posters. Some people here are active in town politics; others are only interested when there’s an election.

Some, like me, simply enjoy reading what those who live in the same town think, as well as blathering on about my own opinions.

Like this one.  🙂

Stephanie

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19 Responses to “Guest Post: Blog Reflects the Voice of the People”

  1. veritas said

    I read the blog for quite a long time before actually participating. I wanted to get a sense of what it was about first. What came through loud and clear was citizens’ level of frustration and dissatisfaction with council and how hard-earned tax dollars were being spent. I had been feeling that way too for some time and it was heartening to know that I was not the only one. Without the blog I would never have known the extent of public opinion. I lead a busy life and don’t have a whole lot of time to stop and chat around town to engage in conversation about our local politics. The blog also casts a wider net on public opinion than 7 or 8 letters in the local newspapers. I really appreciate this blog as a forum to both express opinion and obtain a sesne of what people are thinking.
    I hope it continues as I believe it serves a valuable watchdog role in how the town is run. I would like to see more participation by councillors because more perspectives and opinions can only improve communication and understanding. It may also provide an opportunity for the re-elected incumbents to experience some open and healthy debate – a thing they never knew inside the council chambers.

  2. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    Hey everyone,

    Is Aurora unique in that it has several blogs and two papers? What do your friends and relatives say about their communities?

    When I moved to Aurora in 1989 we had the Era-Banner that served Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Aurora. We used to call it “What’s on Sale and Who is Playing in the Park”.

    When I first started moderating at the Aurora Citizen I used to despair about decorum of the discussions. Now many of the discussions focus on the issues at hand and avoid hyperbole.

    I still wish the Anonymii would get nick names so I can sort out their opinions.

    Blogs are here to stay… until some other technology takes over… and it will.

  3. Luckywife said

    Bang on Stephanie! You have a gift for mirroring the thoughts of others. I am fairly new to blogging in the last year or two, I have never been terribly interested in chat groups or Facebook etc. The internet has offerred a wonderful outlet for me to research my interests and view what is happening in the world without ever having to leave my home. I have always had an interest in what goes on the world, and I am thankful to have this wonderful tool. I browse through The Star, The Sun, The Globe and The Post everyday. I check in regularly with several U.S. dailies and a couple of international e-mags. Sometimes I leave comments. I can assure you that nothing that is allowed on this blog even comes close to some of the profane, mean-spirited and threatening comments I have read there. A fair bit of it is offensive, so I ignore it. I always try my best to keep my commentaries thoughtful, respectful and civil. That’s the rule I’ve made for myself. It is not up to me to tell anyone else how to express their opinions. I enjoy the back and forth of different perspectives and ideas. When someone becomes nasty or ignorant, they have lost me to their audience. It bores me, perhaps because it has become so commonplace to be rude in our society. I appreciate and more apt to consider civil debate over ignorant verbiage simply because it has become more difficult to find.

    Best regards to all,
    Luckywife

    • Well said said

      sure you are not Evelyn Buck ,Lucky Wife??

    • Luckywife said

      I am 100% certain that I am not Evelyn Buck and there is absolutely no connection between my DNA and hers. I have never met her in person, I know her only through her blog and letters to the editor and from watching council on tv. That’s it, that’s all folks.

      Still think she’s a grand old dame!

      Luckywife

  4. Thanks Will Be Given Come October said

    Anyone who questions the effect of social media need look no farther than this blog. Started on October 1st 2009 there were around 215000 visits, less than 20000 a month up until October 17th.

    News of the lawsuit arrives and 26000 visits happened in only one week – just before the election, a 400% increase. And since Monday almost another 20000 hits!

    Did Morris, MacEachern, Granger, Wilson and Kean lose because of the blog?

    No, they lost because of their past actions and present attitudes. The blog only educated voters in a way never before seen.

    Now the blog will continue to provide a channel for those same voters to monitor efforts, discuss ideas and give our new council a finger on the pulse of our fine town.

    It was rumoured that some members of our last council didn’t read or care about what was said here.

    My advice is for the new council members to make only one decision. Whether to read it before or after making the morning coffee every day.

    • In the Beginning... said

      “Anyone who questions the effect of social media need look no farther than this blog. Started on October 1st 2009…”

      Actually, it started in August 2008, at it’s old site:

      http://auroracitizen.blogspot.com/

    • Absolutely correct. We moved to the WordPress platform Sept 28, 2009 after approx 100,000 visitors to the original site.

    • Thanks Will Be Given Come October said

      Even better!!!

    • I’d go one better.

      After reading the AuroraCitizen each councilor should contribute to their own blog, ideally daily, but weekly would suffice.

      I know that the AuroraCitizen provides a community forum, but I believe it is more important to hear peoples voice in a consistent form that they take ownership of and craft and maintain. Evelyn’s comments here are an important part of the ongoing discussions, but the commitment and quality that she has shown to her own blog should be an inspiration to all councilors.

      There should be absolutely no reason for an elected official not to embrace such a communication tool.

    • Fred said

      I just checked out the old site to see those topics. Consistent!
      Crikey, I was quite chatty back then in a different guise…
      Haven’t seen Council Cop or White Knight here for awhile.

    • Anonymous said

      To: someone who loves this town more than politics

      Give me a break. I would rather they spend time doing their job and not blogging.

    • Anonymous said

      “Give me a break. I would rather they spend time doing their job and not blogging.”

      Communicating with residents isn’t part of their job? I beg to differ.

  5. Kron Prinz Ferdinand said

    I also came on here after I found out in then Auroran that Bob McRoberts wasn’t going to run again…and that was the final straw for me. If a middle-of-the-road and longtime resident like Mr. McRoberts throws up his hands in exasperation, then clearly we are doomed…and things like the lawsuits and antics became fodder to comment on. I agree with Matt that the comments do reflect the voting outcomes, as the silent majority seemed to be put off by the Morrisites.

  6. Paul Sesto said

    Well said Stephanie.

    I had read this blog a long time (probably a 1-1/2 years or so) before I contributed which was after the mayor’s lawsuit. I was content to sit back and read what others thought and I didn’t think I had much to contribute.
    “Groupthink” makes me think of George Orwell and 1984. I think the Aurora Citizen is quite the opposite in allowing people to speak their mind as individuals.
    Everyone may not always agree with what others write, but that’s the whole point. And I have no doubt that people will still stay vocal for the pro and con of the next 4 years of council. I don’t think anyone here is following anyone else on blind faith, but will continue to question and provide their input.
    From what I have seen lately it appears that more people (and it’s everyone’s choice) are using their real names so perhaps there is a better atmosphere in Aurora now to do so.

  7. Matt Maddocks said

    Well said Stephanie. I can see where others may think there’s an agenda behind the postings here based on the number of comments that took the former Mayor and council to task, vs the number of comments that supported them. However, given the recent landslide outcome at the Aurora polls, I would say the ratio was just about right. The people spoke at the polls, and they are also free to speak here. That’s why it’s truly unfortunate that some would choose to blame this blog for their woes and misfortune. Threatening litigation against those who would speak their mind, or against those who simply provide the forum, in a country where the right to free speech is held in the highest regard, is to me, sickening. Everyone has the right to express their opinion. You disagree with what I said? Then challenge me. Bring your own opinion. Bring your own thoughts. That’s free speech. To run and hide behind a lawyers letter, served with about as much tact as a rock being thrown through your window, is sheer cowardice. The families of those now served are stunned. Their lives turned upside down. Which is exactly the intent of the lawsuit. To scare someone into giving up their fundamental rights because the other party was offended. Well, free speech is a right. The “right” to not be offended doesn’t exist. We are offended every day. I may disagree and take offence to certain things that are posted, so I write back. I express my opinion. I don’t run to a lawyer (especially one I don’t have to pay for), and use million-dollar threats to try and scare the $h** out of my challenger. The right to express your opinion, to criticize, is fundamental and protected. I believe in, and fight for this right. Just as I believe in and will fight for those who have been named in this ridiculous lawsuit.

    I hope one day you do trip over me. I have made new friends since joining this blog. It’s amazing to find out that once you actually meet some of these folks in person, you have more to talk about than you could ever type. Who knows, maybe this is just one more way we connect and build a healthy community. As long as we’re communicating.

    FYI, I do have a tee shirt actually. It’s yellow, and says “Aura” on it. I wear it with pride.

  8. KA-NON said

    Good post Stephanie, and bang on the money. My story echoes yours, though my postings are not nearly as eloquent and to the point as yours, and those of some others like Luckywife. I agree that this is a reaction to the situation and not the cause. I also believe that the majority of the residents of Aurora are ready to give this council a fair shot at righting the ship. I expect that the posts that appear in the days/weeks/months/years from now will continue to reflect the feelings of the electorate, and hopefully those thoughts will be positive.

  9. Sharon said

    Thank you Stephanie,

    I only visited this sight after our former mayor served her lawsuit.
    I hope that we’d see more folks posting, from all camps other than anti-Morris. All perspectives are neccessary to create good discussion. I, like you, was frustrated with this last year of council. This blogsite is great for venting and discussion.

  10. Anonymous for a Reason said

    Bang on, Stephanie.
    And thus, I shall continue to remain anonymous for a reason.

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