Wednesday, August 22, 2018

There's a Problem Nextdoor

Besides being an amazing vehicle for changing hearts and minds on the subjects of gun control, partisan politics, and organized religion, social media has another hidden benefit: finding out what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Gone are the cumbersome days of having to actually put on clothes and speak face-to-face with your neighbors to get news. Social media again makes it easier to stay in your pajamas until dinnertime and still know what’s going on right outside your front door.

I am a member of a number of neighborhood groups on Facebook, not because I live in a number of different neighborhoods, but because we all can’t seem to agree on which group to use. They are meant to be a “message board” for the happenings in our community, both good and bad. Fortunately, no one ever uses the semi-anonymous nature of these groups to vent about their pet peeves or tear down anyone with an opinion that differs even slightly from their own. That’s what makes these groups so valuable to our community!

In addition to the handy Facebook community groups, I also have a Nextdoor account. It’s a website and app strictly dedicated to neighborhood issues, and it’s even more civil and non-judgmental than the Facebook groups, if that’s even possible! People are always so polite and kind on the internet - it just warms my heart.

Just as a for-instance: the other day, a man posted some pictures on Nextdoor of a gentleman on a bicycle going through his trash cans early in the morning. He warned us, his neighbors, to be on the lookout for this man. That was great.

What was even better was the positive responses he received from his neighbors about his post. One helpful neighbor gave him a lot of municipal codes indicating that garbage is public property, as long as it’s on the street. Another budding legal scholar provided civil codes that stated garbage was private property even when it was on the street. Good, and, I’m sure, legally accurate points were made on both sides of the helpful trash ownership issue.

Another happy and well-adjusted neighbor inquired as to why the homeowner didn’t simply go out and speak to the early morning trash diver, instead of cowardly taking photos of him from the safety of his warm and cozy second-story window. He also politely asked why the man hated poor people. A mutually-respectful dialog ensued.

A fun and light-hearted back and forth occurred between three or four of the neighbors about compassion for the homeless versus tangling with drug-crazed lunatics rooting around in filth and garbage. Personal defense classes were touted, and civilian, police, and military tactical confrontation situations were explored with a lively discussion. It was all very helpful.

Some of the man’s neighbors even made polite suggestions about alternative communities he could move to. He, in turn, suggested other towns and neighborhoods that might be more suitable for them. Many neighbors chimed in regarding their housing histories. It was a truly delightful and charming response all around.

Unfortunately, however, our neighborhood sites are not always filled with these kinds of heartwarming and useful conversations about refuse. Many times, there is simply no room for the helpful things we look forward to, because the sites are clogged with posts about “lost” pets.

In fact, on any given day, roughly six thousand percent of all information being shared on these sites is about a wayward dog or cat.

FOUND DOG: Found this cute Yorkie on Peach Street. He was so scared and alone. I have him safely on my couch and have fed him half a Prozac and a ribeye steak. Does anyone know who his people are?

LOST CAT: Please help. Mr. Socks, our seventeen-year-old Siamese, has gone missing. Here’s a picture of him when he was a kitten. We haven’t seen him in over twenty minutes, and we’re worried sick. He was last seen on top of our play structure in the backyard, swatting at butterflies. He’s such a scamp. We live at the corner of Maple Street and Truman Drive.


I feel like I can save us all a lot of time and energy by clearing a few things up about dogs and cats, so we can get back to the really important garbage-related posts.

Dogs are rarely, if ever, lost. They just love to party. If your dog is more than a block away from your house, it’s simply because it smelled something amazing in another town, and it’s going to investigate.

Dogs can smell a pigeon fart from twelve miles away, and they know exactly what your house smells like, so they can find their way home any time. And since they are a dog, they will come home, because you feed them and scratch them. Food and belly rubs will trump anything else they have going on by dinnertime, so just sit back and wait for them to amble on home.

And if you happen to see a dog wandering around without its owner, please have some compassion for the poor animal, and leave it alone. Think about how you’d feel if you were out at a party and someone kidnapped you made you eat another brand of dog food. See?

Cats are another matter entirely. Cats are NEVER lost. If your cat is no longer at your house, it simply got tired of your insolence and left to teach you a lesson. The lesson is this: You don’t own me. I allow you to provide me with food and a place to nap, and in exchange, you get to be seen with me. The minute you start getting any false ideas about who is in charge here is when we have a problem, insignificant human. Many times, I need to leave, because frankly, it’s very trying being around the likes of you all day. I need my space. And also, sometimes I need to kill a lizard.

I’m very surprised you cat owners don’t already understand this stuff. Please stop posting about lost cats, and if you ever find a cat wandering around your house, just remember, it has nothing but pure contempt for you. Leave it to its own devices, for both your sakes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to a riveting thread on Nextdoor about suspicious solicitors and whether or not Girl Scouts need permits.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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