Lord of the Flies in real life

February 13, 2014

a season reasonI 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.

boxing_glovesAlthough 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.

16 comments on “Lord of the Flies in real life
  1. Doreen McGettigan says:

    I have heard this from my daughters and it is also going on in my neighborhood. Our division is getting wider. I think it may have a lot to do with the lack of manners online in all social media forums. Some people just do not care what or how they say what they say.

  2. I do not understand what happens to some people when they sit down in front of a computer or hold their cell phone in their hands…if they do not have to look another person in the eye…they will say just about anything. It is crazy. The madness needs to stop!

    • admin says:

      I agree. Can you even imagine someone writing a public message like that one about inserting one’s head up… “Why can’t we all just get along?”

  3. Diane says:

    Part of it can be attributed to affluence. When one isn’t devoting all one’s energies to staying alive, one has infinite time to find things to moan about. Makes me think of the age-old conquerors’ habit of sowing fields with salt. Then any possible trouble-makers were so intent on merely staying alive, they didn’t have time to foment rebellion. Maybe we need a little more salt in our lives! 🙂

  4. Lisha Fink says:

    Wait, as you suggesting that adults be consistent in their words and actions? If only.

  5. Jennifer says:

    This phenomena happens all over social media now. As someone already pointed out, people feel comfortable saying whatever behind a computer screen. Ugh! It is one thing to contact a company to lodge a complaint, it is another to send them into bankruptcy. Remember the bakery that wouldn’t make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding? Was the over the top response via social media (death threats, etc) really warranted. How about the chick who tweeted something stupid (can’t remember what now) and got on a plane for 12 hours? Holy Hannah what a firestorm! Do we need to ruin people’s lives because we don’t agree with them? As you can see this has struck a nerve hahaha

  6. Karen says:

    I’ve noticed that many of the replies to opinion pieces in serious publications are Crazytown comments. It’s disheartening that so many people have unleashed their inner morons. It does seem that the sense of anonymity the internet provides has caused so many to forget that manners exist for a reason: to promote a civil society.

  7. Jennifer Steck says:

    There doesn’t seem to be any accountability. It’s everyone else’s fault my life sucks, instead of me being responsible for my choices that got me here in the first place. Hopefully things will turn and get back to people being respectful of others.

  8. Jo says:

    Sadly I do not think your community is rare. I wish it were. I believe in general our small town is also becoming very combative. I have felt for a long time that the internet commuity pages are partly to blame. It’s so easy to talk frankly, harshly even when you can’t be seen. The other issue I believe, is the stress the slow economy has put on all of us. People who thought they were set financially are seeking work at much lower pay and many are not finding any. The frustrations are showing in all aspects of their lives. Kindness has been set aside.
    It’s a very sad thing.

  9. Carla says:

    I agree with the comments above. The anonymity of the internet allows people to say things they would normally never say and unfortunately I think they do it for shock value as much as to be arrogant.

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