First there were chickens, and now there are opossums. Canine-related disagreements will always rise to the occasion if a little passion and defensiveness is called for. Triscuits and Melba toast might one day give crackers a run for their money.
The listservs of Capitol Hill thrive, in all their messy, mean, thoughtful, boisterous, inane and redundant glory. Thank heavens for the posters who keep them not only useful, but also compelling and relevant– even if they are often a bit wicked and prone to pot-stirring. We might take their sometimes high-and-mighty or disagreeable tone for granted, but this lurker will take that over an online swap meet/bulletin board any day.
I tend to use New Hill East and MOTH (Mothers on the Hill) for the most pedestrian of purposes: getting recommendations for service people; giving things away; trying to borrow or buy used goods; and getting the scoop from an educated forum. Yes, you too can crowd-source recommendations for maternity tights and Mazda dealerships right from your couch! Tending to eavesdrop but not jump right in when a brouhaha breaks out at a party or large family dinner, I find myself thrilled to watch when the drama of differing opinion and tastes break out in an online forum. However, more than a few times I’ve sworn off one or the other neighborhood post digests as topics have veered too far to the political, racial or cloth-diapering precipices. This morning I was ready to just that — and perhaps miss my chance at some free Melissa & Doug puzzles dammit! — until I read a number of well-written and big-hearted posts that really turned the tone of a recent series of posts. There has actually been discussion of meeting publicly to delve into some of these topics face to face and hopefully, productively.
About a month back, a message cross-posted on New Hill East and MOTH about name-calling and intimidation in the neighborhood flared out after a week; but not without a lot of community hand-wringing, ire and commentary about implied racism, neighborhood gentrification and inherent conflicts destined between old-timers and newbies in the neighborhood. I rolled my eyes after about 8 messages, as it seemed many of us middle-of-the-roaders did, based on the predictable presence of the usual suspects. Then the topic came up again recently with an update on MOTH. I watched this conversation unfold, and it featured a good deal of listening and give-and-take, with a dose of very MOTH/DOTH-like gentleness. Happily, that softness was not couched in criticism and passive-aggressiveness, as it is often wont to be. The recent Stanton Park fence-hopping back and forth, not so much. To me, those issues are little more black and white, but if there’s ever a place for defensiveness and holier-than-thou opinions over child-related choices, MOTH seems to be it. And that’s why I love it — and the free toys and sanity that’s shared too.
I wonder what would happen if we all had to walk around with name tags. Sometimes, in person and online, we’re emotional or angry, or feeling not just a little entitled to do what we’ve always done (ahem, poopbaggers and fence-jumpers). Generally, this isn’t who we are. There are characters on both lists who make me roll my eyes before I even read what they have to say. For all I know, I might be eye-rolling at the same guy who dropped off the baby activity center that nearly saved my sanity last spring.
Now what I’d like to see is a bit of civil dialogue about the folks who’ve decided it’s OK to exercise their dogs on the new turf at Watkins Field. What can you possibly be thinking? I’m sure there is a more eloquent, change-inducing way to say that, but my goodness, get the paws off the field! Those of you with more eloquent ways of complaining, please do help make this appeal a little less hateful.