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Anti-Social Social Media


Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and many other applications have permeated our everyday lives. The constant barrage of messages and images on our smartphones, tablets, and computer screens has, in my opinion, created a generation of anti-social citizens. Many young people suffer from fits of anxiety when separated from their phones; many have forgotten how to engage with each other face to face while others don’t know how to meet new people without the aid of the Internet.

It’s not all bad, though. The obsession with social media has opened a new door for local governments. Since most people hardly ever look away from our apps, local governments can use this opportunity as a window into our lives. Local governments must capitalize on these opportunities to engage with the young generations as well as the older generations that are becoming more hip.

I have pulled a few documents from the Knowledge Network regarding social media. Keep in mind that the information provided is just a small sample of what ICMA has available:

  • This Document provides guidelines for conduct by personnel working for the city of Lake Forest, Illinois, who use city websites and social media to post information or to interact with the public on behalf of the city or regarding city matters.
  • Written from a legal perspective, this presentation given at the 75th annual conference of the International Municipal Lawyers Association provides advice to municipal attorneys in developing a coherent, legal, and useful social media policy for local governments.
  • This blog is a response to the question, “Can social media reinvigorate civic participation?”
  • Another document examines the use of social media in preparing for and responding to emergencies by local governments.

It is possible to turn the anti-social social media users into engaged citizens with the right plans and policies. What are you doing to engage your connected citizens? Share in the comments below or post your own plans on the Knowledge Network. Be sure to ask questions and answer some as well.

Jesse Himes
Knowledge Network Intern
jhimes@icma.org