I am a part of that “Nextdoor.com” website where neighbors and surrounding neighborhoods can post concerns, questions, events, missing pet alerts, suggestions, suspicious activity notices, etc. When I got the invitation to join about a year ago, I hesitated because A) What is this?! 3) It would be yet another social media site to juggle. D) Did I really need to know everything about my neighborhood and the dozen neighborhoods around me? And 8) Would I actually have to branch out from neighborhood anonymity syndrome and interact with all of my neighbors? Is that normal?
Ultimately, it seemed like a good idea to get notices about theft or other problems occurring in the area, so I caved in and joined.
At first, the site seemed pretty tame. The hot topic of the day was usually which neighborhood was having a community garage sale…woo! It was also nice to hear about lost dogs and cats being returned to their owners. One time there was even a pet mouse…yes, a mouse, posted as missing, but within hours returned. Yay? I mean, yay! The website was pretty helpful, overall, even though there was the suspicion I might learn a little too much about my mouse-keeping neighbors.
As membership grew, I knew it was only a matter of time before things got spicy (I was going to use the word “juicy” there, but since it’s almost as bad as “moist,” I refrained).
And they did.
I’ll skip over all the recent online arguments about road construction. Nobody likes road construction anyway, so petulant fighting online about what roads lead to where and how much money should or shouldn’t be spent makes me cringe.
Let’s also skip over the online bickering about homeschooling vs. public schools, complaints about local businesses, quarrels about theft by teens and instigative posts about whether there are enough police patrols in the area.
The thread that recently caught my attention was related to Halloween.
Names excluded, unlike on the site, here is the original post (although I added hyphens in the appropriate spot because otherwise the English teacher in me might start twitching):
“Hi neighbors! I’m looking for some nearby trunk or treats to visit with my 4-year-old daughter, preferably on the Sunday before Halloween.”
Well, bartledoo. Here it seems a nice lady is just trying to get some information to make her daughter’s Halloween a little more special. Luckily, 99% of the 15 responses that followed were helpful!
Except this one…
“LIFEHACK: If you’re too lazy to walk your children door to door on Halloween, either:
1. Just go to the store and buy them a ton of candy or 2. Don’t have kids.”
I realize I was a total a**hole for wanting to see the next response. But I couldn’t help it…I felt like I should be scurrying to get popcorn and then watch the ping pong war of words that was about to be unleashed. Ok, so seriously, this lady just wrote those words in response to a basic inquiry about trunk-or-treat locations?!
First person’s retort:
“I do plan on going door to door for trick-or-treating on Monday. That’s why I am looking for Trunk or Treats happening the Saturday and Sunday before Halloween and not ON Halloween. I’m planning a full Halloween weekend for my daughter. Here’s a LIFEHACK for you: if you don’t have constructive to add to a conversation, then stay out of the conversation if you don’t have the facts.”
Heyyyy now! I liked this response. Don’t stop, get it get it!
“I need groceries. Will everyone please load up their trunks and give me groceries? I’m too lazy to go grocery shopping, just like people are too lazy to walk their kids from house to house on Halloween.”
Something so simple ended up becoming a total online cat fight.
It illuminates a big problem that often exists with social media: Some people are dicks anyway, but it can be so much worse when they are hiding behind the computer.
Gone are the days where you could trash talk your neighbors behind their back; now you can do it online for everyone to see! Don’t like that the house in the cul-de-sac has an RV parked in front of it? Post about it! Not appreciating the lack of flowers by the entrance of your subdivision? Go ahead and talk some (insert poop emoji) online! Does it look like a neighbor’s house threw up all over the yard? Let your passive-aggressiveness shine! Did someone ask a question about an event in the neighborhood? You can bet that someone is going to post something negative or find some way to unnecessarily provoke others…sad, but true.
As much as the internet/social media has emerged as one of the strongest tools created by mankind, it is possibly going to be society’s undoing…
In the meantime, the online Halloween cat fight is still ongoing! May ignorance eventually rest in peace.