When we moved back to the Bay Area, I joined NextDoor, an online app “neighborhood” to find out what was going on in my former home. This was important because Oakland no longer has a local newspaper and the San Francisco Chronicle is a shadow of its former self. I was assured via its website that “We [at NextDoor] believe that by bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on.” Whoever wrote that can’t have known how many grouches would sign up.

The hype didn’t match the reality–especially the “kinder world” part. NextDoor is, in my opinion, a five-days- per-week grouch fest. People post comments that are sometimes rude and occasionally vicious. A few days back one man “commented” with a raised middle finger emoji. (I didn’t know such an even emoji existed. It isn’t in my stash of hearts or thumbs-up emojis, anyway.) A friend once posted a concern about two vicious dogs in her neighborhood not adequately contained by a fence. The responses of her “neighborhood she could rely on” were so mean and unrelenting that she quit the app. A volunteer who agreed to monitor that neighborhood app resigned because it was so discouraging to try to temper neighbors’ comments.

Most of NextDoor is bland: people posting pairs of used skis for sale (or free), and questions like, “Does anyone know why there are police helicopters circling over the freeway?” This is what I expected and sometimes appreciate. What I wasn’t prepared for were the unintentionally funny and sometimes rude remarks. Here are two examples.

1. “There’s a wild turkey on our high-traffic street [supplies the location] and I’m afraid it will be hit by a car. Any advice? Can anyone help rescue it?” This neighbor seems to assume that (1) nearby neighbors are glued to the app and will rush out to help the turkey or (2) the turkey will be standing in the busy street for an indefinite length of time.

and my personal favorite…

2. “With so many neighbors ‘knowing’ this kitty – who seems to be looking for attention and affection elsewhere but at home – I wonder if there is a mis-match with its owner, who doesn’t bother with ID information on the cat’s collar.  I feel sad for this kitty.” This entry gives Passive Aggression a bad name.


Photo by Alex. K via Unsplash




About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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