Facebook Group embarrasses SPF community


David Ehrenthal

When Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, his mission statement was “to help people understand what was going on in their world and to also have control over whom they shared information with.” However, a local Facebook group, “Scotch Plains & Fanwood Neighbors” has disregarded Zuckerberg’s mission statement by drawing attention to frivolous issues in the community.
The Facebook group was created in 2013 and since then, has grown tremendously. More than 5,000 members, ranging from parents to local business owners, are currently in the group.
Members discuss nearby services and local events. However, along with the positive spread of information has come negativity and gossip. In fact, the original purpose of the group has been lost as the account has been flooded with adult cyberbullying.
With dozens of posts each day, “Scotch Plains & Fanwood Neighbors” is always active. Restaurant reviews come flooding through the group often, with townies in search of the best place to eat for a night out on the town. But do the negative reviews of local restaurants and establishments affect business?

A recent post in the group neg- atively reviewed a local dinner destination saying, “You know how you shouldn’t say anything if you don’t have anything good to say… I’ll say that the booths are laid out in a lovely swastika pattern.”
Another post denounced the local CVS Pharmacy by saying “CVS in Scotch Plains is the ABSOLUTE WORST!” and recommended for others to visit a different CVS location

According to a poll from Do- Something.org, 43 percent of kids have been bullied online. From kindergarten through senior year, children learn about the scope of cyberbullying from school assemblies, class discussions and parental conversations. But the issue is twofold: how is a child supposed to report cyberbullying to adults when adults are cyberbullying each other?

It sets a really bad example,” said an anonymous group member and Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School employee. “It’s easier to hide behind a computer screen than say what you would in person.”

After the recent snowstorms, the group ignited with posts about the possibility of snow days, indoor activities and bad road conditions. Along with this, hostility appeared through angry posts about town members’ tax money being wasted on unplowed roads. There were many rebuttals on how the town was doing their best and some said that homeowners could plow themselves.
What example do parents set for children when they themselves are feuding with other parents?
If parents want their children to live in a cyberbully-free environment, it starts from the top. While this group can provide helpful tips and information, the negativity far outweighs the positivity. Zuckerberg created Facebook as a means to share life events, post photos and catch up with old friends. The “Scotch Plains & Fanwood Neighbors” group shows children that if they want to say something negative to another person, that they should do so behind a computer screen where there are fewer repercussions for their actions.
To all the members of the group: know that your words harm others, even when they come from a keyboard. Users project a negative image of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood community by bashing businesses, parents and town members. If you wouldn’t want your kids to be saying these things, then why are you? Think before you type.