Maybe it’s the Internet. Maybe it’s the long isolation of COVID. The Internet gives people anonymity, safely tucked behind their screens. They can say what they want, and algorithms in Facebook and other platforms encourage them to be confrontational without them even knowing they are being manipulated. There are few filters.
It seems it translates into a lack of civility in public, even in a tightly-knit community like this one. Town employees are being berated and abused over things as trivial as a missed garbage pick-up. Local politicians are also verbally attacked, on social media and now in public.
At the last council meeting a citizen was making a complaint when he launched into a personal attack on a councillor; he sarcastically suggested she leave the room. There were other people who felt the need to abuse the council. Debate is essential in a democracy. Heated debate is welcome, but personal attacks are over the line. Many people seem to believe that the definition of democracy is when someone agrees with their point of view. It isn’t.
Local politicians are not in it to get rich. It might sound corny, but people go into local politics to help the community. Many people don’t seem to believe that. Councillors and public servants are easy targets in the cesspool of social media. It is wrong that it translates into public abuse.