The Girl (on) Nextdoor

By Erica Root

Erica Root
Erica Root

If you’ve been following my recent Adventures in Home Buying series, you are aware that I now own a home here in Sacramento. And like any good new, mildly tech-savvy resident, I’ve downloaded the Nextdoor App to learn more about my neighborhood.

Here’s what you need to know about Nextdoor

Nextdoor is an app that provides you with a “private social network for your neighborhood.” You have to either be invited by a neighbor to join or you have to request access online, whereby you get a postcard in the mail a few days later with a pin number needed to unlock your community.  

The premise is really simple and not unlike other social media websites. You have a profile, where you upload a picture, and provide basic information, like the year you moved into the neighborhood. If you like, you can tailor this further, sharing your interests or additional personal information.

Then you post. Posts show up in a feed and folks can either ‘thank’ their neighbor and/or they can reply.

Or you lurk. Like I do. Letting conversations happen as you sit on the sidelines, watching it all go down.

As with any social media site, there are good things and there are bad things to know before deciding to join. Typically, however, you choose who you want to friend or follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You know you can rely on that friend from high school to post about their newborn or a conservative family member to complain about Hillary Clinton. What sets Nextdoor apart is that the people on this social media site aren’t ones you choose.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

The Good

There are a lot of good things about the app, but my favorite – and likely one of the most positive ways to use the app – is to pawn off old items; to sell or giveaway things to your neighbor. One wo/man’s trash is another’s treasure.

So once the moving boxes were unloaded, books placed neatly on their shelves, all I had leftover was a mountain of unneeded cardboard boxes.

Enter Nextdoor.

I crafted a simple post, the only one I’ve actually ever made to the site, and within a few minutes neighbors were messaging me asking if the items were still available. It was so easy and convenient.

Nextdoor is also great for:

  • Learning about upcoming community events
  • Finding lost dogs, cats, racoons, ducks (I’ll explain this last one later on)
  • Getting recommendations for contractors, handymen, etc.

The Bad

If you are already using this app, then I imagine you’ll be familiar with what I write next.  

Every Thursday morning a post appears in my Nextdoor feed. Like clockwork.

Someone has gone through the recyclables. All around the neighborhood people are putting out their trash bins and recycle bins. And every week someone goes through them, frustrating my neighbors.

The conversations that results from these actions are almost always the same.

One person is angry that trash is left because someone has dug through their trash to find bottles with a CRV. And I get it, nobody wants to have someone else dig around their trash, where there may be sensitive items. And then have to clean up the mess.

And then there are others. Those who stick up for the people trying to get by in this world by going through someone else’s trash, hoping to get a few more Diet Coke cans and plastic water bottles to take to the recycling center. This is the person I generally, and silently side with. Of course, I haven’t woken up to find my trash all over my yard. Yet.

The Ugly

Racial profiling. This happens when people look through recyclables on Thursday mornings. It happens when someone is riding a bike through the neighborhood. The fear and suspicion is real and incendiary.

It’s something that I noticed just a few days after joining Nextdoor.

Now it isn’t all my neighbors, it’s never everyone. But a small, outspoken few that take the feed from a neighborly information sharing forum, to something that brings out the worst in people.

It’s something that Nextdoor recognizes and is actively trying to combat. You can learn more about that here.

And since I can’t end this short piece talking about the worst Nextdoor has to offer, I thought I’d share the most amusing thing I’ve seen since joining…

The Ridiculous  

Anyone missing a duck?

Apparently one of my neighbors was.

But that’s not the story.

Here’s the story:

Another neighbor with a keen eye saw a duck in the neighborhood. Eager to help, they brought the duck home, snapped a photo of it and replied to the original post.

The response?

“No, is he all white? Our duck was light tan…”

Yes, someone brought home the first duck they found in hopes of reconnecting it with its owner.

Thoughtful? Absolutely.


You betcha.

The Conclusion

Now I can’t tell you whether or not to get the app. I go back and forth on it myself. Somedays it is nice to know that I can easily learn when the community pool is open, or quickly advertise a garage sale. Other times I am angry that my neighbors seem to have nothing better to do than incite social media fights with one another.

For now, I will keep Nextdoor, occasionally lurking to see if there is any good information and keeping my fingers crossed that I see more positive, happy posts than negative ones.


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