If you live in the Lehigh Valley and are active with Social Media, odds are good that you have read Lehigh Valley with Love. The blog takes a hysterical, saterical look at bizzare crimes and incidents that occur in the Valley. Most interestingly of all is the frequent Social Media tie in with the blog: accussed criminals frequently find their Facebook and Twitter profiles on the blog, and their own posts are often used against them.
The blog is run by the very Social Media savvy George Wacker. I asked George a few questions about his blog and feelings on Social Media in general, which he was kind enough to answer. See below for more!
1) You blog about people who do incredibly stupid things – and you often link to their Facebook or Twitter profile. Have you ever had any type of negative blowback on that?
Of course. No one wants their profile to be public just because they did something stupid. However, it’s relatively easy (and advisable) to not have your profile be public in the first place. Sure, you may allow it to come up in searches, however, there’s really no good reason to have your profile be open to the public. Unless, of course, you’re okay with people finding whatever they want to find on it.
2) What sort of added dimension does Social Media bring to the crimes and stupid actions that you cover?
The immediacy of it. In the past, someone could commit a crime, be in the papers or maybe on TV if it was newsworthy enough, and that was that. But now? Now a person can be in the news and their information is immediately accessible, again, if they have allowed themselves to be public on social media. That immediacy also translates to the way in which news is disseminated amongst people. In the past, you may literally have gathered around the water cooler to discuss news you saw the night before. Now, all you have to do is hit that share button.
3) Have you ever actually caught someone doing something criminal thanks to Social Media?
I couldn’t say that I, myself, have caught someone doing something criminal, however, I’ve been tipped off to people doing some pretty egregious things from other people. For example, in the past week I was tipped off to the man who surrounded the car of a woman who took “his parking spot” during a snowstorm. That story resulted in quite a social media tizzy. However, unless the “crime” is reported in a newspaper or some form of media, I tend to shy away from posting it. Once it’s documented, then I can go ahead with sharing The snow shoveling seemed innocent enough.
4) In terms of politics, what’s your impression of local politicians using Social Media? Anything that really jumps out at you?
I think all politicians are somewhat, well…. politician-like on social media. Don’t get me wrong, you have been very proactive in encouraging honest and open dialogue, especially through twitter. However, as with any communication, a politician has to be careful how much they share on social media without sharing too much. It’s no surprise that the public at large goes crazy when they see a politician share something “human” on twitter, like how they like a local sports team, or what they may think about Justin Bieber. It allows us to view our politicians as more connected to us, but that’s something that can also backfire. If a politician is too open, well, that could backfire on them. If a politician is posting selfies while out at a fundraiser on a Friday night, how seriously can we take them in their position? That being said, I think Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has been proactive on twitter and has responded directly to citizen’s concerns on more than one occasion. I think State Senator Lisa Boscola does a good job, even though she doesn’t really interact with people a lot.
I think one thing you can maybe expect to see more of are politicians in somewhat “smaller” positions using social media more to their advantage such as school board supervisors and city council persons. A new Bethlehem Area School Supervisor, Mike Faccinetto (@mikefaccinetto) are beginning to connection with the public at large because they are very transparent on social media.
It’s actually really interesting stuff.
5) How often does someone you blog about wind up using the blog or some other form of Social Media to scream back at you?
I don’t censor. If someone wants to come on and comment, they can be assured that I will not delete their comments even if they don’t agree with my opinions. Surprisingly, I don’t get many people directly contacting me expressing their anger if they don’t agree. I think that since the blog provides a space for free discussion, they feel that their say in the comments is enough. That being said, I do receive emails from time to time expressing disdain that I would include their story on the blog. But, that’s to be expected.
6) What is the dumbest use of Social Media that you have ever seen?
There are so many examples. My favorites are when someone gets arrested for doing something stupid, say they went to pick up their sister who got a DUI and then they, themselves, got a DUI because they were drunk when they drove to the police station, then they post on Facebook how they were “wronged” or “railroaded” or something.
Or, of course, when someone shovels in their neighbor’s car because she parked in “their spot” and then puts it Facebook. While that may not be stupid, per se, it sure is fun.
At the end of the day, remember, if you don’t want anyone to see it, don’t post it online.