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An open letter to Vice Chair Byrum

To the editor:

Mrs. Byrum, you are a sweet and caring lady. It seems you’ve given almost your whole life to education as a teacher, as a school leader and as a board member for so many years. You’ve taught children and their children, and cousins and their second cousins, and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters, daughters and sons. In fact, as you regularly reference it, just about everyone in Suffolk seems somehow tied to your educational career. It is commendable. No one can take that from you. Suffolk owes you much gratitude.

Over the course of such longevity, it is easy to understand that because times have drastically changed over your lifetime, some things are possibly difficult to wrap your head around. One of those must be Facebook. You just can’t seem to stop complaining about Mrs. Story’s Facebook page. It obviously frustrates you very much.

Facebook is a 21st-century social media platform from which elected officials are able to communicate. It is a prime means of communication for many institutions, such as school districts, newspapers, city government, and for celebrity news. It is today’s version of the public square.

You had dial up phones; this generation has Facebook. It is one of many preferred social media informational platforms for many people, and yelling at your colleague to stop using Facebook to communicate is just plain old fashioned and out of step with reality. Hundreds of Suffolk citizens really do like Mrs. Story’s Facebook page, and they appreciate the ease that Facebook provides in being able to stay informed on national and state educational issues and on SPS board business in a timely fashion.

Thousands of elected officials every day use Facebook to communicate to masses of people all at once. It is a platform that especially allows disenfranchised people to get their message out — messages which can be delivered in many different genres including personal opinions, facts, data, copied material, pictures, polls, observations, comments and humor. It makes self-publication available to everyone, an entire personal newspaper that is all rolled into one setting.

Elected officials posting on Facebook or other social media platforms just is not going to stop; in fact, it seems to be doing its job quite well, as evidenced by you paying so much attention to it. Perhaps you might consider creating your own Facebook page to communicate whatever you’d like to say.

This is the world we live in, and no matter how tough it is to digest that there are many digital ways to communicate to the public now beyond the telephone, one should probably embrace accepting new trends and preferences that just aren’t going away. In time, as younger and newer members come on the board, there probably will be many more Facebook school board member pages for Suffolk citizens to enjoy and from which they will be able to receive information, conduct dialogue and share opinions.

Lastly, a special thanks to Mrs. Story for keeping us informed and updated through her “Sherri Story; A Suffolk SB Member” Facebook page.

Heidi Pocklington

Suffolk