My wife and I moved last summer from a little condo to a house. In both cases, there was a homeowners’ association (HOA). Our previous HOA wasn’t very active–there were a few active folks, but everyone else was apathetic. The new place is a whole different story. Many active people in many different committees and those who aren’t involved are very opinionated. To me, the most interesting part of this little society is the unofficial online message board.
As we continue to evangelize the new world of social media and networks, seemingly anonymous or semi-anonymous postings have the potential to alienate and dehumanize us, rather than bring people together.
The management company of our HOA decided to post signage reminding people of leash and dog-waste scooping laws after resident complaints. The Landscaping Committee (resident volunteers) put up the signs. Many folks didn’t like the signs. Chaos, of sorts, erupted on the online message board. While many of the comments were civil, many were surprising not considering we all live in the same square mile or so.
Would we say these same things in a room full of neighbors? Or across the fence to a neighbor? Or even on a telephone?
As this new frontier is explored, we are called to be witnesses to our faith. As much as I get frustrated by these faceless people on the bulletin board who say things that (I think) is utterly wrong and it would be easy for me to shoot off a snippy, sarcastic and accusatory response, we can’t let that get the better of us. It’s a new type of challenge and, by the tone of many online message boards, blog comments, etc, one that we must master ourselves, but as importantly, share with the greater Internet family.