Monday, April 30, 2018

"Nextdoor: An alternative reality where black Audis terrorize and everyone is a meth-addled menace"

Someone convinced me I should join Nextdoor - an online community where you can get to know people in your neighborhood and keep up with very local news - and it sounded like a good idea, so I did.  That was about a year ago.

More recently I've been noticing that a lot of people are posting about crime and suspicious people and situations.  I was beginning to think that there were a lot of fearful people on Nextdoor.  Sure, if someone breaks into you car or house, it's reasonable to be upset.  But if most of the posts on something like Nextdoor are about crime, it also magnifies people's perception of the dangers of their neighborhood.  (The same can be said for newspapers and tv news.)

Here are some recent posts from the Nextdoor pages from my neighborhood in Anchorage:
  • Unsupervised Kids in Subsidized Housing Neighborhood [she's seen them carry hatchets and guns and take drugs]
  • 2003 Black Tahoe stolen in midtown 1/30
  • Car rifled. Stolen change, coffee cards, glasses and keys. They keys are for out o state property so not usable for them but a pain for us
  • Abandoned Vehicle
  • Mail thieves

These were interspersed with lost (and found) cats and dogs, items for sale, but I'd say at least 50% were crime or safety related.    

I guess it came to a head for me when someone posted a warning  earlier this month to be careful during the political seasons for misleading posts:
"Be aware of political actors for 2018, even now
Hey all, you may or may not have seen my activity in a thread regarding the mail voting situation. Just know, the Koch brothers have spent a TON of money in this area(I'm not joking or exaggerating), especially regarding unions, and don't take every resident at their word, because they may not be residents. You can talk to me in person, I'm not a member of anyone except my dance group."
That led M to write:
This is not a political site please do not post political posts .
Followed with:
Thank you M.  I'm thinking of quitting this site as I don't appreciate the nasty attitudes of some of these people.  When I signed up for this site I thought it was for neighbors to let neighbors know about thefts, car break-ins, etc., not an agenda to spout your political views no matter which side.  Surely there are other sites where you can go to vent.
Did that "Be aware of political actors" post sound nasty to you?  I guess "nasty attitudes" means things I disagree with because "Thank you M" was the nastiest attitude I saw.  Then others pointed out the guidelines allow for civil discussions of political issues that impact the local area.  But it appears that some people think this is just for reporting crimes and it seems there are people who see nothing but suspicious people and vehicles.

I'm not sure if people who aren't members can go to the link, but here are the guidelines for Don't Use Nextdoor as a Soapbox.

And so yesterday, when I saw this LA Times opinion piece, I felt a kindred spirit had written it.
Nextdoor: An alternative reality where black Audis terrorize and everyone is a meth-addled menace
He says all I've said, but he's much funnier.  Here's a brief sample:
"In the alternative reality that is Nextdoor, people are committing crimes I’ve never even thought of: casing, lurking, knocking on doors at 11:45 p.m., coating mailbox flaps with glue, “asking people for jumper cables but not actually having a car,” light bulb stealing, taking photos of homes, being an “unstable female” and “stashing a car in my private garage.”
From the very first time I logged on, my mission was clear: Do not let my lovely wife Cassandra find out about Nextdoor. Not because I didn’t want to worry her pretty little head, but because I didn’t want her bothering my pretty little head in panic about every black Audi driving down our block."


  1. Steve, this reminds me once again of Gene's memory neighbourhood where housewives (yes, such women did exist in the 1950s) would hang out the wash on clothes lines as much to air the laundry as to 'air the laundry' with their neighbours.

    It was a pre-computer version of the same thing. It will always be with us. We need and will find ways to chat about goings-on. So much of FB is just this.

  2. I'm on Nextdoor too and this made me laugh. What is it about the platform that brings out identical paranoias in people thousands of miles away from each other? My favorite was a post about a guy who was SITTING IN HIS VAN!!! for SEVERAL MINUTES!!!!! without any plausible reason for being on that street!!!!!!!!! Which devolved into exhortations to call the cops any time you see a vehicle parked on your street that you can't identify.

    But a few months ago we had a fascinating discussion on Nextdoor about whether they should remove a statue of a former Confederate officer from the median circle in a nice liberal neighborhood. Hundreds of posts, many of them literate and thoughtful, many of them revealing of to-the-bone prejudice and privilege. And for some reason the Nextdoor censors actually let the discussion continue.


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