On an internet full of trash websites, Nextdoor ranks up there as one of the very worst. If this app is meant to replace the fabric of American and neighborhoods and communities that’s been ripped away by techno-capitalism, it’s not doing its job. If it’s meant to replicate the comments section of a local news site’s Facebook, then sure, it’s doing great.
With all that said, there are times where Nextdoor—like most forms of social media that have proven toxic over the years—produces stellar unintentional comedy.
After having an unused account for years, I finally decided to join my neighborhood group the other day. I can’t even claim morbid curiosity; for a very brief second, I thought it might be useful. Not even in a “maybe I could blog about it one day,” although here we are.
A few hours after I joined the group, a trending post landed in my inbox with the subject line: “Do you know this PSYCHOPATH?”
My immediate fear was that the post would be a blurry Ring capture of a teenager who committed the crime of walking too close to a driveway and an anxious Bergen County transplant asking if they should call the cops. Instead, it was a blurry Ring capture of a middle-aged white dad who looks like he’s routinely setting PRs on the chess press machine at Planet Fitness, along with a letter this guy allegedly wrote and then dropped off at several different houses. Apparently, someone yelled at this man’s wife and he chose to respond by acting out a Raylan Givens monologue, if Raylan was a wronged husband who spent too much time on the early 2000s blogosphere instead of a psychotic U.S. Marshal.
The letter begins:
To whom it may concern:
I’m writing this letter because a man yelled at my wife while she was in the carpool line for the middle school on your street. It was a middle-aged man. I believe he had a beard. If that’s you, please read on. If that’s not you, I encourage you to read on to learn more about your neighbor. At this point I’ll assume that “Mr. Temper” is reading this letter, and will switch to addressing him in first person.
That’s not what first-person is but ok, I’m not “Mr. Temper” but I am listening.
I’ve asked my wife to identify the specific house so that I might pursue a conversation with you, but she will not give me the address
Hold up, what?
which is why I’m hand-delivering this letter to every home near where she described.
Perhaps she thinks that I would act like a jerk and yell at you,
Why would she think that?
but I assured her that I’m a grown man and learned a long time ago that it’s ridiculous to yell at anyone (including a woman in her minivan waiting for the carpool.) No, I only want to ask you a few questions.
First, are you like, a “yeller?” Is yelling your thing, as opposed to reasonable and respectful discourse? Or maybe it’s a hobby? Pickleball is a huge new craze here in Raleigh, do you think yelling is the next pickleball?
You’ll be shocked to learn this letter gets progressively more absurd and bizarre from here.
What we have here is a man who read far too many Maddox blogs in 2004 and then unconsciously absorbed them into his personality. But on the other hand, a guy apparently briefly got mad at a car, and then a relatively short time later “Do you think yelling is the next pickleball?” is permanently etched into my brain for the rest of my life. So who’s the real sucker here?
This letter gets simultaneously more deranged, obnoxious, and unfunny from there. The guy asks his intended recipient if he likes yelling at inanimate objects, including his own teeth. He asks whether the person who yelled at his wife is “a cranky old curmudgeon with a really young appearance” or a “cocky, hotheaded 22-year-old who’s crushing his career as well as chicks and cocaine, and that fast-living has made you look much older?” Huh?
To be fair, the person described here sounds like they were kind of a dick in the moment; carpool lines all around the country have been a particular kind of hell this year, and without knowing the particular details here, it’s reasonable to assume a random mom is not actually “the problem,” as the yeller addressed in the letter allegedly accused her.
But any goodwill I had for the letter-writer went out the window when he asks, “Do you have the license plate “MRDWNTWN” or is it on the car of some poseur? If you get your doctorate will you insist people call you Mr. Downtown since Dr. Downtown lacks the panache?” 0/10, please workshop this tirade a little more.
Anyway, the guy ends his letter with a threat and perhaps the one truly funny part of the letter:
Will you consider what a jerk you were to a kind, generous woman who has supported and invested in the people and businesses of downtown Raleigh for almost twenty years? Will you also consider how wrong it is to yell at anyone, no matter if they’re kind of not? Will you believe that if you yell at my wife again, you and I will be meeting?
This is the end of the blog, you can read the letter in full below.