I have a strange relationship with our neighborhood’s listserv. I live in an urban area that is going through a “revitalization.” There are a lot of community-minded people in my ‘hood, and I’m proud of that. I like that people share ideas and weed whackers and lost-pet notices, and sell cars and furniture or trade a jog stroller for a vanity mirror. I don’t even mind the “be on the lookout” (BOLO in listserv world) for certain things– this thing that’s happened to more than one person, prostitution by the Kroger, etc. What I do NOT like is what I just saw on the listserv, with the sensational title, “BREAK-ins: WE ARE ON LOCK DOWN!!” The post was peppered with all-caps words, scary phrases like “It is NOT SAFE to…” and descriptions of how our neighborhood “hoodlums” are getting more aggressive, as well as almost certainly inaccurate accounts of other, unrelated crime, like “Did you hear about the guy at Citgo that got car-jacked, even his wedding ring, and PISTOL-WHIPPED?!?!?.”
I love the listserv– I sold my box springs on it, and it led me to the pre-pre-pre-discussion of starting a montessori school in the ‘hood last night which was informative and exciting and I left feeling hopeful. But I hate this shit. It makes me feel paranoid and trapped in the middle of a terrible place. It’s over-the-top. “LOCK-DOWN?” Please. Why not just say ‘MASSACRE COLUMBINE MURDER INVADER KILLER” while you’re at it. It’s great to be vigilant, but it’s obnoxious to create additional drama and fear. Which we obviously don’t need, since we’re all walking around our neighborhood, fending off the wedding-ring-stealing-pistol-whippers.