Like many members of Congress, Shimkus said he has found Twitter to be a useful tool to show his constituents in Illinois what he is doing in Washington.
“In our business I think you shouldn’t miss an opportunity for people to observe you and comment,” he said.
But the congressman also sets himself apart with his tweets by his taste in candid snapshots. “I like to take pictures from my vantage point,” he said. An example he cited was a picture he posted two years ago on Sept. 11 of members on the east steps of the Capitol as they looked down on other congressmen while they sang "God Bless America."
“I think that Twitter helps people follow you,” he said. “It’s not like I want them to see me … I like the idea of taking a picture through my eyes, rather than a picture of me.”
Shimkus said he uses Twitter both as a way to connect with his constituents and as a simple way to keep them informed. While he hasn’t done an official Twitter townhall yet, he said he might consider one in the future. His press secretary noted that whenever he does a phone-in townhall forum, they integrate updates with their social media outlets.
The congressman added that he finds Twitter “very humbling,” since he can quickly hear from people who don't agree with him. On the other hand, he said he also appreciates how quickly constituents rally to support him in the face of criticism.
Shimkus, a member of the telecommunications subcommittee, said Twitter is the “in” thing right now, along with Facebook pages dedicated to work. He noted that the technology landscape is always changing and that other ideas are trying to usurp that.
You “have to have kids in your office to stay on top of that,” Shimkus joked, looking forward to the next new media tool he needs to learn.