I’d like everyone who uses social media to take a moment to imagine yourself holding down the voluntary job of moderating a community Facebook page in these volatile times.
I was the original administrator of the Lorane, Ore., page. I set it up many years ago because the makeshift email distribution tree Marna Hing and I had been using just wasn’t getting the community news out to enough of our locals.
Since then, four other administrators have come on board to help me make decisions and “keep the peace.”
Thanks to Marissa McNutt Cooper, Lil Thompson, Martin McClure, and recently, Margie McNutt, we have an ideologically balanced and caring group of people who spend a great deal of time dealing with arguments and “situations” that break out within the community.
For the first few years – actually, the majority of the time we’ve overseen it – the page has been an extremely useful way of disseminating information to Lorane residents and our neighbors. Events are publicized, concerns are discussed, lost-and-found pets are reported, dangerous situations involving livestock on the road or thieves in the area have kept us all informed and have bonded us as a community.
For the past two years, however, with stress levels high from the pandemic, tempers on edge because of political differences, and the overall “unsettled” blanket lying over our world, our job has become more and more difficult.
In this past year alone, we have had to take down volatile posts, rude and personal, harassing comments that are targeted at either the original poster or other commenters – and us.
We have been called names and have been threatened with lawsuits for trying to do our jobs impartially.
Our guidelines don’t allow political opinion posts, so the postings that tend to get out of hand can be on a subject that can still be controversial. The successful ones are those that discuss the pros and cons respectfully and they can be useful tools for the community to learn about various concerns our neighbors have.
The ones that tend to “blow up,” are those where usually one of the first commenters will use a tone in disagreeing that invites controversy and that tone sets the stage for more, increasingly rude and disrespectful comments from those on both sides of the original post.
Comments frequently become personal and confrontational to the point where we are forced to intercede.
Lorane has always been a friendly community. We have long proven to be good neighbors and in a recent post reminiscing about the 1987 Lorane Centennial Celebration, many of the comments on it showed the love that is still felt by those who were lucky enough to grow up here:
• “Never forget that was a big day in our little town! It was a wonderful place to grow up. I’d love to live back out there now.”
• “Those really were the good old days. So proud of this town.”
• “Love it and the memories of living in Lorane.”
• “It still is a GREAT place to live.”
And, it still is a wonderful place to live. The short tempers and impatience shown on the Lorane Facebook page are universal. I’ve seen similar ones on the Crow, Veneta, Creswell, and Cottage Grove pages and it’s a sad commentary of the times in which we are living right now.
One of our administrators said it best: “I feel we are better as a community than some of what I have seen in comments.”
I think many have forgotten or misplaced the Golden Rule we learned as children – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Let’s once again try to show respect to our neighbors … online and offline.