Let the Nextdoor App Spark Your Creativity

Thursday, January 12, 2023


Photo by David McBee/Pexels
If you’re ever looking for some writing material, just pop on over to your not-so-friendly neighborhood Nextdoor app. Yikes. 

When I saw a post go up bashing a pet sitter I’ve used a few times, one that I had no issues with because she has no issues changing my senior dog’s diaper if necessary, I couldn’t help myself. The poster claimed he had hired her to watch his special needs cat, administer medication, and a few days before his trip, he hadn’t received confirmation from the sitter. Having personally used the sitter before, I knew she generated leads on the NextDoor app but requested clients book her through the pet sitting site, Rover.com. It can all be confusing, and I knew there had probably been a breakdown in communication and was a little alarmed when the poster said he had found her social media accounts and watched her stories so he could verify the sitter “was okay and in town.” People who had never even worked with her chimed in and said how unprofessional she was, attacked her character, attacked anyone who defended her, and so son. She finally chimed in and said he had never officially booked the visits and that he would be hearing from her lawyer. Not surprisingly, the post came down about 24 hours later. 

But I have seen so many of these types of incidents with “keyboard warriors” take place on the app I got to thinking it would be an excellent place to mine for material for curmudgeonly characters, short story ideas, essays, or even full-length fiction. 

For example, I could write an entire essay on why we shouldn’t perpetuate stereotypes about dog breeds on Nextdoor. Yes, I’m looking at you, the poster who complained about the “evil ass Chihuahua” running loose in one neighborhood. Maybe Paco was just scared. Maybe he’s like Prancer, the recent Chi who went viral because he was pretty much unadoptable (spoiler alert: the man/child-hating Chihuahua now has a loving home with a female owner), with some issues. Maybe someone left the back gate open on purpose . . .the point is you don’t know his backstory. Don’t assume that every Chihuahua loose in the neighborhood is going to bite your finger off. Bottom line is, they are not all like my grandmother’s old Chihuahua, Chiquita, who really did try to bite my finger off as a child. 

The potential crime stories on the site also get blown up like that old-fashioned game of “telephone” we used to play. If you see someone in a car stop and try to talk to a child or teen on the street, don’t assume it’s an attempted abduction. If you don’t see an abduction, don’t blast photos of a license plate number and the car all over the app so people can “keep an eye out.” Sometimes people really do stop to ask for directions or slow their car down to talk to someone they know. The site is like a trainwreck and I can’t look away. It really is an excellent place to find new material! 

Have you gleaned any recent writing ideas from social media sites? 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.


Cathy C. Hall said...

Ooooh, I hadn't considered NextDoor, Renee, but I will scour the AITA posts...um, maybe Am I the Jerk, to make it family friendly. I am constantly amazed at what people think is acceptable behavior. But oh, boy, is it ever some great stuff for plots and characters!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

NextDoor? I hadn't considered that one. Every now and again, I go on the Facebook page for my area. It is the perfect place for cozy writers to compile lists of piddly little things that have enraged someone.

Cathy - AITA. Yes! Another source of . . . really? That set your entire family off?

Angela Mackintosh said...

I've written two pieces on NextDoor shenanigans. My hubby used to post a lot on the app, and I wrote a piece about this lady who broke into our house, and because he wrote that she was a red head, he got all these funny "watch out for those red heads" comments. I wrote another fictional piece about seal neighbors stealing Amazon packages off a typo. Lol. :)

The most interesting app when I lived in Los Angeles was the Citizen app. If you're looking for true crime, you can watch everything go down on live stream. The app itself has been under some controversy about encouraging vigilantism, hunting people down, etc. It was formerly called the Vigilante app. But since I moved to the mountains, there is no activity on it. Same thing with NextDoor. There are no users out here. In my last mountain town they had a Facebook page where townspeople posted, and here, I'm not sure where they gather online yet.

Nicole Pyles said...

That is FANTASTIC idea! This is like the digital version of police blotters in newspapers (which is always fun for story ideas).

Anonymous said...

That sounds like what I see on Facebook. I regret ever signing into that horrible nightmare.

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