It’s such a wonderful idea don’t you agree? Set up a community site where residents can seek and give advice, promote local events and businesses, support each other in times of crisis. Fantasic!
Thousands of people join, but before long the trolls take over; those who simply enjoy creating havoc. Then there are people pushing their various political agendas, the so-called keyboard warriors. It becomes so hate filled that ‘ordinary’ people stop posting for fear of being ridiculed and bullied.
Our main Facebook community group here in the Blue Mountains has over 10,000 members. It is beyond the admin team’s capacity to control it. They too are threatened and bullied, even in their workplace.
I have never forgotten the delightful person who offered some local honey for sale. There was an overwhelming response and she valiantly tried to cope with the demand as fairly as she could. But do you know what? Within an hour or so she was being abused!
Are we more selfish and unkind here than elsewhere? I sincerely hope not and I know other community groups face similar problems.
Below is a picture of Blue Mountains’ residents attending a ‘thankyou’ to firefighters and service groups after the recent bushfire threat subsided. The huge attendance in 40 degree heat and the amount of food brought along to share reassures me to some extent. Mind you, these dear souls are probably not on FB.
So what to do? Well, in the end I quietly left the group. I’m all too aware that it’s fatal to announce such a decision. Others in my situation have faced a chorus of; ‘ Great…f…k off then!’ ‘Good riddance!’ etc etc. Nor is it as simple as just disappearing.
Would it have been possible to create change from within? Every now and then some of us in the group protested and pleaded for more positivity. The response at first was heartening, but sadly it didn’t last long. Back would come the trolls and the disaffected. While we were dealing with the bushfires it became almost impossible to find useful information amid all the nastiness.
HERE’S THE DILEMMA…….
I write and share stories on social history and nature, and write promotional pieces to assist local businesses. In the time since I left, the economic hardship here has became really serious. Tourists have vanished and my village of Blackheath is now practically deserted. It’s the same almost everywhere of course. And I haven’t achieved anything at all by opting out. Yes, a burden lifted from me initially, but then I just felt selfish and frustrated. The latest piece I wrote about the Blackheath Bar and Bistro was shared in various other groups, but a potential readership of 10,000 would have been so helpful to them.
Joining again is dispiriting, but I feel I’ll have to. Even if my articles persuade just a couple of people to shop locally or to go along to a venue it’s better than nothing.
NOTE – Here is a link to the Blackeath Bar and Bistro story. They make great cocktails!
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