Biddeford’s political machinations have always been colorful and somewhat interesting.
But lately, our city’s colorful political landscape has gone from an interesting mix of pastels to a nightmarish blend of bright acrylics that looks like something from a Van Gogh nightmare.
Just four hours after Mayor Alan Casavant announced on Facebook that he will be seeking a third term, an anonymous Facebook identity popped up and started sending out “friend” requests.
“Joe Biddeford” says he (she?) wants to keep his/her identity anonymous “to keep trolls from attacking me as opposed to contributing to the important dialogue on local issues.”
Since I routinely blog about Biddeford politics and often play in political circles, I was curious about what this “dialogue” would be. So I sent Joe a friend request. As of this writing, Joe has not accepted my request. I am heartbroken by this.
Many of my friends have received friend requests from Joe Biddeford, but not me.
Joe Biddeford’s Facebook page is public, and last I checked he had 10 friends. Wow! 10 friends.
But wait, it gets better. Only two people have posted anything on Joe Biddeford’s Facebook timeline. One of them is my friend Fred Staples, a former city councilor who has 407 Facebook friends.
The other person is Paul Pelletier, a familiar enough surname in a community with a Franco heritage.
But get this: Paul Pelletier has zero Facebook friends. Zip. Zero. Nada.
Paul Pelletier seems to be a ghost raised from the dead just a few weeks ago, according to his/her Facebook profile, which is also public. Unlike Joe Biddeford, “Paul” says he/she does not want friends. (All the makings of a sociopath)
In the “About” section of his Facebook page, “Paul” dazzles us with this brilliance: “I don’t wish to share information over Facebook. I use it for informational purposes and to engage in political conversations.”
Someone needs to tell Paul that he should not be on Facebook if he doesn’t want to share information on Facebook.
He says he uses Facebook for “informational purposes.” That’s generally what all stalkers say.
“Gee, officer, I know I followed her through the mall and into the parking lot, but I was just gathering information about shopping trends.”
I’ve got some news for “Joe Biddeford” and “Paul Pelletier:” There are several places where you can go to engage in social media conversations about Biddeford or its politics.
On Facebook, there is Biddeford Today, a page that features news about the city and profiles of its residents. There is a nostalgia page called You Know You’re From Biddeford If . . . There is a Facebook Page for the for the city’s dog park, and even this blog has its own Facebook page.
Heck, once upon a time there were two other blogs about Biddeford Politics: Game Over: The Premier Blog of Biddeford; and “Biddeford’s Best Blog: B3. Both of those blogs (critical of Mayor Casavant) went radio silent shortly after Casavant won his last election in 2013.
The point is: there are plenty of places to go on the internet to talk with Biddeford residents.
The power of the internet
Let’s face it, the internet is an extremely powerful tool that enables instant, global communication. And social media has been used to topple governments, win presidential elections and showcase cute kitten videos.
Sometimes, if you use it properly, social media can bring attention to things that might otherwise go ignored. Social media can be used for noble purposes (crowd funding) and for bad purposes (child pornography).
A couple of years ago, I used social media to bring AT&T to its knees after the company failed to address one of my complaints. More recently, I have tried the same tactics with American Airlines, but have yet to accomplish my goals. (I’m not done yet).
If you want to be “social” on the internet, social media outlets are a great place to start. It’s also a great place to stop because an increasing number of people are reporting being addicted to social media.
Sometimes, the best way to be social is to turn off your computer, pick up your phone and call a real friend. Go for a walk, have a cup of coffee. You don’t have to be anonymous or play silly little games.
If you really need to connect, try stepping away from the keyboard and breathe some fresh air.
[Edited: “Joe Biddeford” accepted my friend request. Yippee! Now I can finally take part in the “important dialogue about local issues.”]