Every ward in every city is a little bit different from the others, a small city within a city. They’re just larger, politically described neighborho0ds. And neighborhoods are different. Some are friendly, inviting, warm. Some are dark, menacing and you lock your doors when you drive through.
But I’d like to introduce you to a new place, Lewiston/Auburn’s Eighth Ward.
It’s a rollicking place, full of intrigue and murderous intent. The folks that live there really don’t like each other. They call each other names and threaten each other and trash their neighbors daily. They lie in wait, looking for any opportunity then they jump up and just start knocking the crap out of each other.
The thing is, they may not like each other but I think they really like this little niche they’ve carved out. I’m frequently boggled at how much time they spend in the place, trading slurs and insults.
Want to visit? Just point your browser to the Sun Journal, click on a story, scroll down to the comment section. Start trading insults
I get it in a way. For me, the comment section has so much promise. It puts the reader in the story in a way they never could before. They can argue ab0ut who to blame, what kind of impact it’s going to have on their community and they can say what’s really on their mind without worrying that it’ll come back to hurt them. They can point out places where the reporter has screwed up the story, point to avenues for later investigati0n or just trade information.
But that doesn’t happen here. In most instances, comment conversations follow the same pattern: The first two might discuss the story, but they’ve veered off topic by the third or fourth post. Someone posts something blaming Lewist0n’s new immigrants then everyone starts insulting each other. Sixty comments later, they’re just calling each others names.
Story? What story?
It doesn’t have borders or landmarks. It’s not physical, but it is real. You can feel the impact it has when you talk to someone that’s had their backside scalded there. It doesn’t matter if they’re an elected city leader, an appointed staffer or a person that sat still for a st0ry long enough to get their name in the paper. The downside for them is, they’re not anonymous. The still have to live in the community, their kids go to school there and it’s hard for them to not take the digital abuse they get seriously, even if it is from a bunch of unknown spooks and digital nutjobs.
Here’s a secret: We know who they are. They might be anonymous to their neighbors, but we know their real names and know that they’d never say that kind 0f stuff if they had to have their face behind it.
So maybe that’s the best thing about the place. It shows what’s going on behind the smiles in the rest of the city.