I live in an area of my city that has a name. The truth is, we’re on the outside edge of this area, which boasts a several-block-long shopping and dining district that never quite caught on as a destination. Except for locals, that is. We live a few miles from this district. The surrounding homes there, though, are charming little places and some are even a little historical. Not super-plush.
The people who live in the area consider it a real community and set great store by its quality of life. I know this, because we have a community e-list. The e-list is like an e-bulletin board. Neighbors can post about missing pets, if they’re seeking a car, a job, an apartment. They can ask e-list members for referrals–electricians, housekeepers, gardeners–you name it. People post about political meetings and community issues, too.
It seems like every week someone posts about what a great place to live it is and then, at some other point, others will post about house break-ins, car theft, robberies –and no one sees the contradiction.. Most of the criminal action takes place near the commercial district and in the general vicinity of these charming little homes. Meanwhile, in our further-away area, still considered part of this community, well, we just don’t see all that much crime, nor do we go around waving the flag about what a great neighborhood we live in.
I once blogged about how wonderful the people in this community were to the homeless. I thought it was a beautiful thing, much like gorgeous tulips standing tall and proud.
But now, like the drooping tulips above, the tide seems to have turned. I’m not sure if the air my “neighbors” are now breathing has become fouled in some way, but they are turning on each other like characters in Lord of the Flies. For some months, nasty posts began appearing, then insults flew fast and furious. One neighbor even told another to insert his head up his rectum. In those words. In an email that went out to more than 2,000 neighbors and politicians.
What were they thinking??
Neighborliness seems to be drooping, much like my tulips.
Although many on the e-list bemoan the closure of shops in the little commercial district, when a brand new shop made a marketing misstep, there was a piling on, the likes of which I’ve never seen. People said they’d never do business with the new shop. Or they were going to go in and give them a piece of their mind. It went on and on, all because this business took up some sidewalk space with a marketing promotion. There were dozens of emails, or so it seemed. The infraction? It was hardly worthy of a massive rebellion. And again, these same folks didn’t see the contradiction between bemoaning the departure of commercial enterprises and their un-neighborly behavior.
Recently, though, our long-suffering e-list founder and monitor stepped in with some mild admonishment and banned a bunch of people. Things have been more civilized since. (Also, a bit boring.)
So, I wonder, what accounts for this horrible behavior?
It’s not that our area’s in a downturn. We live in Silicon Valley, which is actually gaining, rather than losing jobs right now. Many people make great money, even. Homes in our area are selling for above list price.
I just don’t get why people have begun acting toward one another in such uncivilized ways– and so publicly.
Humans are only…human, I suppose, and maybe that accounts for it. Nonetheless, it’s disturbing. It takes so little to be kind. To be nice. To give the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe they ought to spend less time waving the flag of neighborliness and actually act that way.
That’s what I think, anyway.