Nextdoor: The psyche of suburbia

Nextdoor is one of the best social media sites available on the App Store today. This may be confusing, or even counterintuitive for some of you, but I believe there are few sites that can offer the unscripted, ridiculous, wonderfulness that is Nextdoor.

Nextdoor is a social media website for neighborhoods, essentially a Facebook specifically for the North Shore (or any other community). It’s the perfect place to find a babysitter, sell your gently- used furniture, promote a charity, or buy Hamilton tickets. There’s even a pet directory so you can see all of your neighbors’ animals.

I joined Wilmette’s Nextdoor community just this year and have not regretted it for a second. The trivial, hilarious forums and posts are enough to keep me entertained for hours. My personal favorite Nextdoor controversy is a simple topic: coyotes.

Anyone on the app is familiar with the coyote epidemic that is currently consuming, if not devastating, the North Shore. There is truly a staggering (and undoubtedly excessive) number of posts related to coyotes. Pictures, street names where they’ve been sighted, and general concern about the coyote population is bound to be in your Nextdoor feed any time, any day.

The coyote content has gotten so out of hand that it’s become a Nextdoor MemeTM. A fool-proof way to gain Nextdoor clout is to reference the coyotes – regardless of the content of a post.

I am unashamed to say that nothing makes me happier than a good coyote meme. The glorious trolls of Nextdoor have worked hard to poke fun at our community’s antics. My personal favorite coyote-related posts have been pictures of deer and a giant inflatable unicorn and saying they’re coyotes. The comment sections are priceless.

Nextdoor is a dazzling addition to our community and I am clearly a fan of its content. Despite the vast majority of posts being lovely and innocuous, every now and then I see a post that is decidedly unacceptable for a neighborhood chatroom.

Nextdoor is meant to be used for babysitting opportunities and iconic coyote posts – not for rumors or problematic and circular arguing. It should not be a forum for gossip or speculation about things as serious mental health or the lives of students.

Last spring, a member of our news staff died. I was disgusted to see a post on the site where several parents made sweeping assumptions about her place at school, her religion, and the reasons for her death. All with a startling lack of knowledge or factual basis for their comments.

I understand the desire to know what is going on at your child’s school and concerns that parents were having. However, Nextdoor is not the most appropriate place to be having this conversation (especially when you know so little about what actually happened).

I have no doubt that the users contributing to these posts had nothing but good intentions and simply wanted to know more for the wellbeing of their kids. But there are certain issues that are better discussed offline than on Nextdoor.

Our school is currently grieving the loss of another student. Students, friends, and, most importantly, the family are mourning.

I was disheartened to see a post about it on Nextdoor the very next morning. Certain topics do not warrant commentary from the entire North Shore online community.

There are important, thoughtful conversations we need to be having with our families, friends, classmates and school officials to improve our community and heal. As big of a Nextdoor fan as I am, I feel confident saying this is not going to happen on the app.

Like with any social media, there can be a desire to talk about absolutely everything and anything going on in our lives, or even the lives of others. Many teenagers have been taught to maintain a thoughtful and careful presence online; the same theory and caution must apply to Nextdoor.

If you wouldn’t put it on Facebook or Instagram, or you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying it to a group of strangers, it is best to leave it be.

Nextdoor has the capacity to bring our community closer together, promote charitable causes, and boost local businesses. Let it remain as such without dredging up careless gossip or hurtful rumors.