Let Inga Tell You: Social media trolls among us
It was the best of ideas. It was the worst of ideas. Yes, we’re talking about neighborhood social media.
On the “best” side, there is no better or faster way to reunite lost or found pets with their owners. Often the owner is simultaneously posting a photo of the lost pet while someone else is posting a “found” message. So much better than putting photos on utility poles.
Sharing recommendations for vendors, contractors, cleaners and repair people is another huge benefit. So many people I’ve hired in recent years have come from these recommendations.
Bids for help for refugees or people needing special assistance are often met with heartwarming generosity.
I think I live in a wonderful neighborhood. My immediate neighbors are all close friends, so I tend to assume that everyone in this neighborhood is as lovely as they are. Hence, it’s always discouraging to realize when reading local social media posts that there are Trolls Among Us.
The crime alerts were one of the main reasons I subscribed to our area social media network, but I confess that has been a mixed bag. Most of my neighbors have outdoor security cameras, so there are regular posts of miscreants stealing bikes and power tools out of crowbarred garages, swiping the packages off front porches, vandalizing cars and committing acts that we all hoped those security cameras would discourage. It’s our own too-personal version of Crime TV.
Alerts often will go out on the network about someone going door to door allegedly selling pest control. Like we’d fall for a dodgy pretense like that. No siree! Such persons are presumed to be, at the very least, a house caser (and at times have been) but equally likely an ax murderer.
Unfortunately, sometimes people actually are selling pest control. But within minutes, their Ring-generated criminal-in-action headshot is in every inbox on the network and probably on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. I have to say, I’m really not sure I’d want to sell anything door to door in my neighborhood. I’d be afraid someone would shoot me before I could even mention the comprehensive roach and rodent package.
It always seems that no matter how innocuous a post someone makes, there has to be at least one person who posts a truly toxic, totally unhelpful response. Then everyone piles on. It sometimes gets so incredibly ugly. When I see a post with 78 comments, I don’t read it. It will only make me sad.
There was one awhile back that started with a post about homeless people and devolved into housing issues in general, short-term rentals in particular, the general lack of police response, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Gov. Newsom’s mother (who produced Gov. Newsom), climate change, the last election, seals at the Children’s Pool, why Republicans are bad people and why liberal Democrats are destroying democracy. I think the mayor and his mother got in there somewhere, too.
Dog Poop Wars are another continuing theme on the network, although this one I kind of get. While the majority of dog owners are responsible people, there are those who seem to decide to take out their hostility on the world by letting their very, very big dog poop on the sidewalk. Preferably right in front of one of those little signs that people stick in their flower bed saying “Please clean up after your dog.” (Inquiring minds want to know: How do they get them to do it in that exact spot?)
During the pandemic, there were those who appointed themselves Chief of COVID Police, posting regular rants on the network about perceived non-compliance.
Alas, there also are folks who think this forum is a good place to post their political views. I wish the moderator of this network would tag it with a yellow warning message like “This is a forum for lost pets and crime reports! Stop this now!” (Where is the virtual photon torpedo when you need it?)
Not long ago, someone posted video from a Ring camera of a truck hitting both the poster’s car and a neighbor’s, then taking off. The poster was hoping someone would recognize the truck and that its owner could be compelled to make restitution. A perfect application for this app. There was a lot of sympathy, but some troll just had to post “Your fault for parking on the street. Should have parked in your driveway.”
Gah. There it was, the gratuitous snark. Too bad we can’t vote these people off the island, er, neighborhood. Or subject them to an endless loop of “Bambi” reruns where Thumper says, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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