Sunday, March 18, 2018

Next Door

So I don't know if you've heard about this... wiki, maybe? App?... called Next Door.

Basically, you join it by giving your name and address. Then you're in this group with all your neighbors who have also joined, within what seems to me to be a two or three mile radius. People can then post information or questions they have.

For instance, a guy who will do lawn work in the area may post. Then you could hire him to mow your lawn.

Or if you've lost your dog, you can post a picture of the dog and ask your neighbors to keep an eye out.

I joined a few weeks ago, mainly to see what it was about.

What it's mostly about, as it turns out, is scared white people posting about how
"some man" knocked on their door. "This man," they post breathlessly, "knocked on my door today! Twice!" (Picture posted of a young brown man heading down the sidewalk.)

Or: "This man was walking down our street! He is looking at all the houses!" (Picture posted of an older white man.)

Or: "This man is running in our neighborhood! Should I call the police?" (Picture posted of a young black man in sweat pants and a jersey, running down the street, obviously jogging.)

Or: "I think this man is looking for drugs! He's been on our street twice!" (Picture of an older black man. FYI no one would be stupid enough to come to my neighborhood looking for drugs.)

People reply to these posts, mostly, with such terror and paranoia that you would think this neighborhood, instead of being one of the most boring and safest in the entire nation, was a literal war zone. They'll say things like, "I never answer the door unless I'm expecting a family member! You can't be too careful!"

Or: "Yes! Call the police! He's probably running away from them!"

Occasionally someone will post something like, "I think people on here are just a little paranoid," but that meets with screechy rebuttals about how "crime is out of control!" and "My friend's cousin just got her lawn decorations stolen by someone JUST LIKE that man!"

Lawn decorations. I kid you not. It was a cement pig, for those who are curious.

The part where people find and return one another's dogs is nice. But otherwise, jeez, all this app is doing is making me think less of my neighbors.


Bardiac said...

Uck! That sounds horrid.

There's a lot of fear being fed (and it's been fed for a long while, now) that makes people more afraid than is really rational, and especially afraid in racist ways.

A little story: when I was a kid, there were lots of crime shows on, Dragnet, Adam-12, and so forth. And it seemed like everyone was always being arrested. And then at some point I realized that I only knew one person who'd been arrested, and he was a really good, kind person (possession of marijuana).

And then I heard from somewhere that more white people were killed in "Westerns" (movies about the settling of the US west) than were ever IN the US west during that period.

And I put two and two together. And as an adult, I realized that watching crime shows made me worry more about crime than was reasonable, given life experience and crime statistics (even though I lived in Los Angeles at the time). Most of the crime I saw/experienced there had to do with domestic violence (neighbors, so I called the police several times). I pretty much stopped watching crime shows, and now I think I have a more realistic sense of what to worry about.

But how to convince people who've become terrorized already? I have no idea.

I think in your case, I might start responding to the worried racist stuff by saying, oh, yeah, that's my neighbor. And then, he's a great guy so you should say hello next time you see him (white folks tend to be more worried by Black men than by women). The last thing we all need is people calling the police to harass Black men because the caller's scared for no good reason.

delagar said...

That's a good idea. I've seen one or two comments pushing back against the fear and paranoia, so I know I'm not the only one in the neighborhood who thinks all this terror is unreasonable. I like the idea of making the "scary" man family.

nicoleandmaggie said...

I almost never use NextDoor but we get the emails to our almost never used Yahoo account which is what I was using to communicate with car dealers the other week. So naturally I clicked on a few weekly summaries. I don't know how to login to the account itself (my husband set it up when we got the notice about it, but I'm not sure why).

From what I saw, we have one (racist white) guy like you describe on ours and he gets extremely confrontational and misogynistic when people politely disagree with him. It's scary! It's even scarier than he lives in my neighborhood. My colleague who lives in my neighborhood said it got really heated around the presidential election... I wonder if that's why there have been hardly any yard signs in the past few years.

But most of the rest of NextDoor is lost and found dogs and people complaining about outdoor cats. I really liked the one we had in paradise-- it was almost 100% people buying/selling/getting rid of stuff and information about local children's events. Very useful for people with kids who had just moved there.

I like Bardiac's idea, though I'd be careful not to give his name out. Racists are scary, and not all are "well-meaning".

delagar said...

I do like the part where people help find each other's dogs!

jen said...

Before I moved to my current apartment complex, I was in 2 places where I was able to use NextDoor, and it was SO helpful. It was a great way to find out what events were going on in the area, find folks who could use some of the stuff we weren't moving, etc.