By Rick Eckert
There is a big difference between the “press” and “social media.” I have great respect and admiration for the press. But it amazes me how so-called “social media” can disguise itself as the “press” and surreptitiously incite individuals and/or groups by allowing the posting of false and inflammatory information under the “freedom of speech” clause of the Constitution.
That allows rumors and innuendo and false conclusions to run rampant and unchecked, and the outcome is unintended (or, actually more often, intended) consequences.
The pen truly is mightier than the sword, and the damage done by the pen and the tongue can truly kill someone, but often more visciously than a sword.
It is easy to kill someone’s reputation, destroy lives and careers, and annihilate a person’s self-esteem through words. Damage done by words lasts forever—a fatal wound by a sword is quick and merciful and very short-lived. Having said that, let me set the record straight about a topic that should not even be a topic of importance.
The accusation that is running rampant that the mayor of Powder Springs is somehow “running me off” is blatantly false. There are two reasons I am exploring possibilities outside of Powder Springs: One is personal, and one is political.
The personal reason is nobody’s business. The political reason is that in this mayoral election, there is a chance that I would be seeing a mayor elected who would be a person whom I had to terminate his employment for cause.
Professionally, ethically and morally, I could not work for a mayor under those conditions, even if I were asked to stay. No professional city manager would.
For the record, no one is “running me off.” I have not been asked or encouraged to leave by the mayor or council. In my position, ethically I cannot and will not endorse any candidate, and neither can I vote for any in this case, simply because I live outside the city limits.
However, I cannot and will not sit idly by when lies and half-truths are being told. For those pointing a finger at the mayor and making false accusations in this regard, remember that when you point a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself.
And for those with the flash-mob mentality that seems to be the trend of social media, I would suggest that for any person running for election in any race—locally, statewide or nationally—you judge them by their merits and accomplishments, successes and failures, not rumors or unproven and speculative accusations.
It is a proven tactic that in politics, if you cannot defeat an opponent (elected or appointed) with facts, you attack their character and person. Facts can be proved; unfounded accusations against the mayor or anyone else cannot.
An informed public knows the difference. That is why the press is so important—it looks for the facts as accurately as possible and reports accordingly. Social media, well, it speaks for itself.
Flash mobs say it all, as England and Pennsylvania can attest. Maybe they should call it anti-social media, for it certainly causes anti-social behavior.
For honest people who have concerns about the innuendoes that are being expressed in the “social” media, I encourage you to check the facts—they are readily available.
Rick Eckert has been the city manager of Powder Springs since March 2010.