Bari Weiss recently resigned from her position as an op-ed editor at the NY Times.
It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am leaving the Nextdoor app.
I joined Nextdoor with gratitude and optimism two years ago, prepared to make a difference in our beloved neighborhood of Shady Grove by serving as a moderator. Yet, some of you have shown absolutely no appreciation for the immense amount of effort I’ve put in. In fact, you’ve even criticized me, saying that, as a moderator, I control the “narrative” of our neighborhood without any awareness of the responsibility I wield. That accusation is completely untrue.
For example, when I alerted everyone to the blue Toyota Corolla driving down the street VERY SLOWLY, almost all of you pooh-poohed the danger and told me not to call the police. I listened, only to discover two days later that Steve Thompson’s garden gnome was missing. If I had listened to my instincts, that gnome would likely still be standing next to Steve’s begonias. Who knows what horrors that whimsical garden ornament is experiencing now? I shudder at the very thought.
The lessons that ought to have followed that gnome abduction have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in Shady Grove: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, facilitated by an app, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.
That is why I must remove myself from Nextdoor as a moderator and a member, no matter how much the rational part of the Shady Grove community cries out in protest. Raise your voices in vain, Shady Grove neighbors, for I am a victim of cancel culture!
When the baton twirlers from the high school posted that they wanted to add a little “oomph” to their state contest routine with fiery batons, who showed up to make sure things went smoothly? And then came the battery of posts saying I didn’t need to “extinguish those flames.” For God’s sake, Madison Patterson can’t even pass algebra on the second try and we’re just supposed to trust that she won’t catch her hair on fire? NOT ON MY WATCH.
It’s apparent that my forays into the “bad neighborhood” of Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying. When Billy O’Brien posted to ask if it was okay to shoot that potentially rabid squirrel with a BB gun, I went with my gut. Several people said that it just seemed like a normal squirrel, but I’m not prepared to risk the safety of those in Shady Grove on such flimsy evidence. Others said that I was encouraging Billy’s sociopathic tendencies, but I prefer to think of it as encouraging his innate talent.
Similarly, some neighbors thought that I was encouraging racism just because I called the police on Barry Jackson. How was I to know that this gated community has a Black resident? Yes, I’d seen him in his yard before, but I’d always assumed he was just a very nicely dressed landscaper. I’m not sure why some people got offended. After all, I was complimenting both his wardrobe and his garden.
Despite these efforts, my comments and my character are constantly demeaned here on Nextdoor. Some neighbors insist I need to be rooted out so that our neighborhood message board can be truly “inclusive.” Others post axe emojis in reply to my comments. I’m no legal expert. But I know this is wrong.
Part of me wishes I could say my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity — let alone risk-taking — is now a liability at Nextdoor. Many of my neighbors have whispered in my ear that they agree with me — that gnomes should be safe in Shady Grove — but self-censorship has become the norm, due to fear of ostracization. I knew my fearless reign as a moderator was over when I hesitated to issue a warning about a rogue fox walking the streets; I knew some of you would accuse me of objectifying Andrew Goodwin — which I was decidedly not, although I don’t think anyone will deny that he’s a sight for sore eyes in his cargo shorts. And so self-censorship has become the norm. Everyone lives in fear of the digital thunderdome.
For the young citizens of Shady Grove who hunger to become a Nextdoor moderator dedicated to truth and justice, I beg you not to lose hope. Shady Grove is a great neighborhood that deserves a great app and even greater moderators. You will, no doubt, grow up to fill my shoes and perhaps one day, I will read — with avid interest — your posts declaiming runaway Roombas and obscenity-laden wi-fi network names.