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Thanks to Facebook and their creation of private Facebook groups, if you live in a downtown Toronto condominium you might actually get to find out who your neighbours are. Which is good AND bad all at the same time.

You know what I’m talking about. They’re “The Resident’s Only Facebook Groups” that only tenants and owners get allowed to join; the posts are relevant to whomever lays their head in that building every night. Don’t think your condo has one? Go do a search right now. Even townhouses and boutique lofts have them here in the city.

If you’ve never been a member of such a group before you’ll immediately be awed by all these names of strangers who you can market your parking spot for rent to and ask advice on how to switch the gas line on. Make no mistake – it is a wonderful place to do that.

However if drama isn’t for you then delay that click…

Awash in technology, anyone can hide behind the Facebook post they make or comment on, projecting any opinion they want or expertise they think they have without having to look the receiver of that information in the eye. You know I’m right. I’m not talking about the post from Maria asking what the property manager’s phone number and office hours are. Nope. I’m talking about a largely unmoderated forum for strangers to rant about topics they are all interested in.

What does it mean when someone writes text in all capital letters. Is he yelling? Are one or two word responses a sign that someone doesn’t want to engage? When someone responds with a 4-paragraph response tagging your name and throwing a whole bunch of information and accusations at you because you commented earlier in the thread, are they smarter than you? Were you wrong? Is your integrity being attacked? For ever 10 that post, 40 are watching and taking in all the information, often too scared to comment and be tied into the thread. Conclusions are drawn on frighteningly little information in this kind of environment and I’ve seen blood literally boil online.

Sometimes all is fine and well on the Facebook group like I said. Other times we see posts like this:

(1) Who was the a**hole who smoked multiple packs of cigarettes and left all the butts on my balcony? I think it was suite 702. He’s so inconsiderate. He should be fined.

(2) Our builder has done terrible work. We should sue him. Let’s get a petition going. You should all be signing this.

(3) When we vote for our new condo board, there should be a special rule about realtors not being allowed to run.

I kid you not, I have seen all of these posts in a Facebook group before in this city. I had someone I had discussion with on Facebook recognize me in the elevator and corner me down almost threateningly because he didn’t like that I didn’t agree with him. Not too fun.

Just by nature of the fact that I am posting this online opens this up to comments – and I welcome your thoughts and experiences on this subject – but in the meantime, here’s a thought to those of you who are members of a Condo Facebook Group.

Don’t post anything you wouldn’t say to a whole room of people in your building all gathered in one space, right to their faces. Use the group as a means for creating community and we might just see a city will less law suits, more commodore for neighbours, and a greater peace when walking in and out of the door every night.


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