Someone started a Facebook group for our neighborhood several years ago.
Was it to foster communication and connection?
This individual used it as a way to shame people whose yards weren’t up to his standards. It was an anonymous account, but a resourceful sleuth could easily figure out who was shaming us online. Our friend Dan can get to the bottom of any mystery and this one was a piece of cake. Dan informed us there was only one place a person could stand to get pictures like that– the upstairs of one particular home.
Welcome to the neighborhood.
If you’re on social media, chances are you’ve seen some sort of Facebook group for your town or your neighborhood. Our city has one with almost 22,000 members. Some days it’s equal parts “dumpster fire” and “help me find my lost dog”.
It’s a delight.
It’s a disaster.
It’s “I Heart Spring Hill”.
The “I Heart Spring Hill” page is the online location where everyone goes when they have a question or complaint about the community.
Here’s a sampling of posts:
*Why is the traffic so bad? We need those darn northerners to stop moving here.
*Are any walk-in clinics open today?
*Has anyone seen my dog?
*Someone’s dog is loose in our neighborhood.
*Whoever is shooting fireworks on January 17th needs to STOP! My dogs are freaking out and my babies can’t get to sleep.
*Traffic is so bad. Please stay home.
It’s the nature of social media to attract negative comments. People really want to tell someone when they are upset, but I’ve also seen some great things come from it:
*Rallying around a girl who had no one show up for her birthday party. When her mom posted her disappointment most of the town came to celebrate her.
*The time the entire town looked for a lost boy.
*Giving to meet needs.
*The way most of the members interact with a boy who often posts who just wants a friend.
There’s good there if you just look for it.
Every town has its quirks. I’ve learned something about the most difficult folks online. They’re good folks who had momentary lapses into grumpiness and they are all struggling with something we don’t know about.
Not long after we moved in and discovered the group with those shaming posts online, we braved crossing the street to say, “hello” to the grumpy individual. We learned his name and we learned that he was dying.
ALS was fast and brutal. Before we knew it, he was in a wheelchair and could barely talk. He would sit outside in his driveway on nice days and enjoy the sun and smile at the kids playing in the cul-de-sac.
He died last spring. I think about him when I read the Spring Hill Facebook group. I try to keep in mind, when I read the latest gripe, that I have no idea what’s happening in their life.
It reminds me that our “digital” neighbors are real people. They have real struggles.
It’s easy to forget our manners online, but how can we truly love our neighbors if we aren’t loving our digital neighbors?