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October 2017 Column - Real conversation, not social media shows the true feelings of America


Students and club members were able to participate in this enriching experience
Legislator Lorigo and county Department of Public Works officials facilitated the discussion along with town representatives
This is a prime example of how government can invest in the private sector and achieve measurable results
Recognizing the many organizations, businesses and individuals who go above and beyond to better our community
Legislator Joe Lorigo and Democratic Legislator Tom Loughran introduced a second resolution to fire Erie County Water Authority Commissioner Jerome Schad

As I sit here enjoying the unseasonably warm fall we’re having, I can’t help but reflect on the last year.  Since the 2016 presidential campaign, it feels like the people in this country have become more divided than at any time I can remember.  If you pay attention to cable news or social media, it’s nearly impossible not to feel that way.  That’s why it’s so important to talk to people.  


Since entering the County Legislature, I have made it a point to talk to as many people as I can.  Whether I meet them at community events, district outreaches, business tours, helping them with a problem through my office, or speaking at their front door, the time spent with real people is invaluable.  What I’ve learned from these experiences is that most of the extreme views seen on cable news and social media are exaggerations of honest, rational, reasonable feelings.


Unfortunately, civilized discourse, thought-out opinions, and well-researched arguments have been replaced by bickering, rash decisions, and snark.  It’s one thing to be clever and witty; it’s another to simply peddle snarky retorts and opinions. 


As a young(ish) 35 year old male in the 21st century, social media is nearly unavoidable.  I have a Facebook page and a Twitter account.  I use them to varying degrees, but I mainly use them to keep my constituents apprised of important information, while sharing some of the great events hosted by different community organizations.  I fear I am increasingly becoming the minority in that degree.


Since Twitter’s inception, it feels like people use it to try and fit the snarkiest comment they possibly can into 140 characters.  While “funny” at first, I fear the race for “likes,” “retweets,” and “followers” has downgraded the level of discourse between those with different opinions.  Those who follow me on social media will recognize that I don’t engage in this type of behavior online. 


I’m not saying that debate shouldn’t exist or that people who disagree should never engage.  As someone who has been a huge proponent of checks and balances in county government, I believe in healthy debate.  In my personal experience, however, I have found that the best way to discuss differing opinions is through a mutually-respectful face to face dialogue.  As I talk to many of my constituents, I have found that even those who think they disagree on everything have much more in common than they ever thought possible. 


While you might never know it if you only followed cable news, social media, and many of our federal representatives, the majority of America, and more specifically Erie County, is not made up of left-wing or right-wing fringe.  We are the people in the middle; who care about our country, our families, our fellow man, the environment, and the economy.  We fight for lower taxes, better infrastructure, efficient spending, and the opportunity for prosperous jobs.  As your County Legislator, I have made representing your interests my priority.  I pledge to continue that solid representation.