Editorial: Think about the consequences of your words

Published 8:27 am Monday, April 17, 2017

This past week, a blog post has been circulating online that was written by a former Albert Lea High School student. It is titled “20 Things You Know to Be True If You’re From Albert Lea, Minnesota.”

The post, the author has since clarified, was intended to be a satirical piece about her hometown that she hoped would make a few of her friends laugh. The post talked about how other students in her classes at the University of Minnesota don’t know where Albert Lea is, how she thinks there aren’t many restaurant options in the city, how new businesses don’t stay around for long and how she thinks the Freeborn County Fair is overpriced, among other comments. She ended the post by saying she didn’t know of a single person her age who wants to stay in Albert Lea.

This author has said she was trying to be funny, but what she doesn’t realize is the impact her words and the words of others have — not only on the city’s own community members but also on people outside the community who may consider visiting or moving to the city. Since her post went live last Tuesday, it has been liked on Facebook 376 times and shared more than 2,000 times.

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But it doesn’t stop there.

Remember that in addition to the more than 2,000 people who shared the post are the dozens — if not hundreds — of friends of each of those people who have since seen the post. Words spread like rapid-fire on the internet.

Yes, every community has its quirks. Some cities have more restaurants and shopping opportunities than others, but we encourage people to look a little bit closer.

While countless shopping and dining options may be nice, so is living in a community with lower crime, a good education system and outdoor opportunities at the edge of our fingertips. Where else will you find a community so willing to support its own residents in need? Whether it’s cancer, deaths in the family or natural disasters, residents in Albert Lea and the surrounding area come out in droves to show their support. It’s not that way in most cities.

Now — or anytime — if there’s something people don’t like about Albert Lea, we encourage them to stand up and be a positive influence for change.

There are many organizations in the community seeking to make the city a better place that are looking for other people to join their efforts. Many of these efforts are paying off, too, as Albert Lea is beginning to see many former city residents — now with young families — moving back to the area. There have also been several more events planned in recent years for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Get active in your church, join a service club, run for City Council, lead a child’s sports league or raise money for a good cause. The possibilities for good are endless, but it does require effort.

As Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”