The Schmitt

Growing up, I never felt especially connected with my neighbors: to me it seemed that people just didn’t have the same incentive to interact with or befriend their neighbors that they did before the days of internet. In all honesty, perhaps due to the internalized resistance to technology that my elders impressed upon me, I blamed cell phones and social media. But then I discovered the app Nextdoor.

In case you don’t know what Nextdoor is, it’s similar to Facebook, except that it’s customized to show you updates posted from within your own county, city or neighborhood. Once you input a street address into your profile, Nextdoor automatically fills your feed with posts written by your neighbors and local residents. You can even choose the radius of the area you’re connected to.

Maybe it’s because of marketing or just the nature of the app itself, but it’s important to note that Nextdoor appears to be completely devoid of people under the age of 40 (until someone makes a post asking for a babysitter—then they’re spammed by countless money-hungry high schoolers). At large, though, Nextdoor is a haven for boomers—and it’s glorious.

Nextdoor advertises itself as “the best way to stay informed about what’s going on in your neighborhood,” which is absolutely true. You’ll learn way more about your neighbors’ personal lives than you ever thought you wanted or needed to. (And older people tell us teens to be careful what we post online.)

There’s no better way to characterize the type of content that pops up on Nextdoor than to share a few of the posts I’ve bookmarked throughout the months.

One guy posted about how leaving your car parked in front of your house is as bad as leaving out a loaded shotgun, then proceeding to lecture that the “shotgun analogy is actually a gross understatement because a car can do a lot more damage and injury than a shotgun, especially in the hands of a drug induced, paranoid, adrenaline jockey kid.” As someone who is forced to park in front of my house everyday, I feel personally attacked; at the very most it’s an unloaded shotgun (I’m not a big fan of leaving my keys in the ignition).

Another guy recently posted a poll asking, “What should be done to people who put their dog poop in other people’s trash cans?” The options were: “Tar & feather,” “Gulag,” “Forty lashes with a wet noodle” and “Spin the wheel of doom.” “I am tolerant of many things,” he said (I’m gonna have to hit X to doubt), “but not being forced to store someone else’s dog waste against my will.” I’d comment, but I’d rather not risk exposing myself for my dog-poop-related war crimes—this guy doesn’t mess around.

Meanwhile, there’s this subset of the app’s population that is OBSESSED with nature, to the extent that they’ll post to the app about ALL of their wildlife sightings. For example, in the past few weeks, there have been at least eight individuals (yes, I counted) within the radius of a few miles of me who have felt the need to send out “urgent alerts” that they’ve seen coyotes in the area. I love that you want people’s pets to be safe, but I think we get the hint after the first seven posts. At this point, if your neighbors aren’t aware that coyotes live in Oregon, they’re probably incompetent pet owners anyway, and yet another blurry photo of a brown-colored blob on their timeline won’t change that.

Explicit expressions of political beliefs are pretty limited on Nextdoor, which is honestly for the best, but I think this interaction sums them up pretty well: someone posted “Vote ‘No’ for president in 2020!” to which a lady responded, “I do not appreciate Markhams post. Furthermore I was under the impression that political statements are not welcome here. MAGA.” I guess if you can’t beat ‘em with principle, join ‘em.

There’s some pretty genuinely weird stuff going on in my neighborhood that I found via Nextdoor, too. Two women posted about suspicious door-to-door salesmen. One was selling “pavement” and the other allegedly knocked on the door while his white van idled in the driveway and greeted her, “Good evening, ma’am, do you like chicken or beef?” Allegedly, when she questioned if he was selling anything, he just repeated his question again. Needless to say, I’m glad for the “No Solicitation” sign outside my door.

As far as my personal interactions on Nextdoor go, it’s been a very mixed bag. Over the summer, I found a lovely dog-walking job with a couple a few streets over. On the flip side, I got into an argument with a man about “transients” living on boats, and last fall I was catfished by someone named “Shannon” (but we don’t talk about that).

While I’ve showcased some of the “quirkier” things about the community, it’s important to note that the vast majority of Nextdoor is very positive-minded and pure. One retired man living in the Hallinan neighborhood has been putting up daily inspirational posts for weeks now which he always captions with “Today.” The most recent reads: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.”

So, in summary, Nextdoor is just about the greatest form of social media out there. It solves the problem of feeling like you don’t know your neighbors (albeit, maybe a little TOO well) and simultaneously provides you with hours upon hours of fun as you watch your new acquaintances squabble about whether or not we should build a 196.5 foot cell tower on top of Cooks Butte and trade stories about a suspicious white van prowling around outside their houses (which will turn out, of course, to be an Amazon delivery vehicle). So really, what’s not to love?