We live in a very large, but tight-knit community that stays in close communication via a private Facebook group. As one of the Administrators of the group, I’ve had the “pleasure” of creating and enforcing rules and boundaries in this online world. Over the years, rules and guidelines have had to be created and I’m pleased to say it is has become a fairly civil group that mostly self-enforces kindness, courtesy and consideration of neighbors.
One common-themed argument has come up several times in the last month. Whenever an ambulance or fire truck is seen in front of a house, neighbors take to the internet to immediately ask what is going on and if everyone is alright. Many folks have such care and love for their neighbors that they really do want to know if everyone is alright. If it is someone they know (and even someone they don’t), they want to know if the family/person needs help or assistance. Others feel this is a huge invasion of privacy. While there have been elderly neighbors who have fallen, and then appreciated the outpouring of support while they recover, there are also neighbors who have undergone trauma or loss that is understandably something they want to deal with privately.
One way we Admins have dealt with this is to make a rule that house numbers and addresses are not allowed to be posted unless approval of the homeowner has been given. Block numbers are allowed, but no pinpointing of exact neighbors. We ask that all neighbors communicate via private messaging about personal information and we do delete posts with sensitive information about neighbors. Again, this information must be approved by the neighbor before posting.
Despite a pretty good record of kindness this past year, last month (in the course of two days) we lost two community members to suicide. I woke up to the group FILLED with questions about “who died?” “I heard there was a suicide! Who was it?” and this month, once again, “I hear there was a homicide at [exact address], does anyone have details?”
These community members all have family on the page. I cannot in my right mind fathom how neighbors can have such a lack of empathy and respect. A few close friends found out about the death via these kinds of posts. We admins deleted these posts and privately messaged the posters. We requested that they keep their questions silent out of respect for the family and to allow them the privacy they deserve during these tough times. Most people were very understanding. Some seem confused as to what the problem was. Invariably, the families came forward and posted information about a the upcoming viewing and funeral for those who want to attend. Better connected neighbors sent out requests for food delivery or other support as needed.
In this world of instant gratification of knowledge, it is nice–on one hand–to know that neighbors still deep down care about one another. But for the love of your neighbors… take a moment to privately ask a friend or a neighbor for information or have patience. I cannot imagine the pain of going online only to read unending questions about your loved one. 1102-17
I am also on a community forum but, as yet, we have not had to deal with this issue. The closest situation was about 6 weeks ago and I posted the inquiry. I had witnessed a horrific accident right in front of my house and was a first responder on the scene. The vehicle turning left into the subdivision across from my house had been hit so hard that it had flipped upside down crumbling the small pick up truck’s roof. We could not get the driver out and waited for the fire department to use the jaws of life. He was alive when he was removed. I asked our group if he was a resident in the subdivision or a service vendor (within a larger context of discussing the dangerous intersection and what we need to do to fix it). The family then replied with the information of who he was and the extent of the injuries.