Apparently, there were several cars stolen in my neighborhood last night. This is a bad thing. It means calls to the police, insurance forms to fill out, and time lost spent in doing those things. It also means a basic loss of security in a part of town that prides itself on being safe. So I’m certainly not minimizing this.
I found out about the thefts because I joined a neighborhood Facebook group. I wanted to learn whom my neighbors considered good plumbers, dentists, etc. And I have gotten some good information. But, unfortunately, there is also a great deal of complaining about, well, everything.
Take this morning. In the midst of people offering sympathy to those who had their cars stolen, there were others who were complaining about the lack of police protection. Some were loudly proclaiming that my part of town was becoming like another part of town that has a reputation for crime, although Metro stats don’t justify the bad rap.
Part of this is a function of social media. Years ago, I wouldn’t know about these stolen cars unless the victim was a friend, neighbor, or colleague. Now we have instant knowledge of every major and minor crime committed moments after it happens, and it makes us feel afraid and threatened, even when crime statistics don’t support that fear.
For those of us who have lived in our neighborhood for many years, we know that we’ve never been crime-free. My condo community had break-ins before I moved in. My apartment community had a rash of smash and grabs. (The joke among my friends was that the thieves came to the top of the hill where I lived and saw my beat-up car, decided other crooks had gotten there before them, and turned around.)
Nowhere is completely safe, but social media can make us feel like every place is a war zone. So the next time bad news starts overflowing your feed, take a breath. Things may not be getting worse; it’s just that our methods for communicating bad things have improved.