Just found out about a site called rottenneighbor.com where you can go and vent about your unhappy experiences with your neighbors. It is a fairly new site, launched in July this year. Using a version of GoogleMaps, the site allows you to explore your neighborhood and comment on it.
I, of course, was curious to find out if there were any comments about the last raucous party we had in the backyard, complete with fireworks. At first glance my zip code entry seemed to bring up a whole bunch of flames, but a drill down reassured me there were no comments pertaining to my area.
Started by a disgruntled neighbor, the site is yet another example of the incivility propagated by the internet. Stuff we wouldn’t dare to take up in person can now be spewed in anonymity. Is it fear that stops us from approaching our neighbors and sorting out our problems amicably? Or is it the fact that we have forgotten the art of civil discourse? I know this is a pet theme of mine, but I really feel that the internet has allowed us to be ultra selective about our friends and acquaintances and choosing them virtually, thus eliminating the need for adjusting and getting along in our real life encounters.
Maybe the site is just a forum to vent when someone feels powerless to tackle the problem and unable to move out of his unpleasant environment. But given how responsive city officials are to a genuine problem, I would put the mouthing off down to sheer laziness. Too loud music being played? Dogs barking day and night? Suspicious activity in the neighborhood? Just approach the relevant people in the city office and chances are something will be done. In my own neighborhood, we had one house which was a possible Section 8 and certainly looked over-occupied. What ticked off the residents was that there would be pickup trucks barreling down the road at ungodly hours and needles and vials were found on common property. When talking to the occupants didn’t work, the neighbors took a signed petition to the city. I was involved only peripherally , but to my surprise, the house is no longer a problem.
Would the fear of being reported on the site spur good behavior? I suspect people who care about what their neighbors think are not going to indulge in antisocial activities in the first place. So the commenters on rottenneighbor forcibly bring to mind a Hindi saying involving axes and feet. Why would you choose to devalue your neighborhood, especially since the information is public and can be viewed by realtors and house hunters? At least in the spirit of self-interest, try to solve your issues with your neighbors before you impulsively vent your spleen. Tempting though it may be, indulging in that kind of good old-fashioned bitchiness makes you as bad a neighbor as the one you’re complaining about.