Lyme Facebook and Instagram pages show changing times

The manner in which we communicate has changed dramatically in recent years and continues to evolve. We now are as likely to send text messages or other digital communications to friends and co-workers as we are to walk down a hall or to a nearby office to talk face to face. We often glean information about local events and neighborhood news via social media.

It’s important that local government officials, who have a responsibility to stay connected to their public and a stake in maintaining community engagement, keep up with the times. Many municipalities now have official government Facebook pages to assist communication. The most recent one to increase efforts in digital social engagement is the predominantly rural and tiny town of Lyme – population 2,400.

In announcing the start of official Facebook and Instagram pages late last month, Selectman John Kiker said officials wanted to enhance the town’s capabilities to communicate with residents and be able to more quickly relay information to a wider audience. The Town of Lyme Facebook page already has more than 200 followers, while the Instagram page has about 185.

The Facebook page features a schedule of upcoming recreational programs and an announcement about proposed changes to Shoreline East rail service. The most recent Instagram post is a stunning and colorful sunset over Whalebone Cove.

As are many small towns, Lyme is struggling to find enough volunteers to serve on municipal boards and commissions. Increased communication and engagement with community members through social media should help foster deeper feelings of community and lure more residents to some of these vacant posts.

“If the people are involved and feel involved in the town, then they will step forward and help the town,” First Selectman Steven Mattson said.

Fostering a sense of community has become more challenging in a contemporary society in which most families have two working parents, many adults commute long distances to jobs and a large variety of commitments keep residents busier. This means municipal officials must try harder, be more creative and use as many means as possible to keep residents informed and engaged.

While social media is not a substitute for traditional news outlets, nor for the official municipal website, there is no doubt it is another form of communication on which more and more rely. Lyme officials were smart to recognize this. Establishing these pages is a great step towards encouraging more volunteerism in town.

 

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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