Press Club

Poop post on Nextdoor leads to dogpile but ends on hopeful note

The Liberty gas station in Bluemont (photo via Google Maps)

Nearly 200 comments later, a contentious Nextdoor discussion about the propriety of tossing bagged dog poop in business trash cans ended on a hopeful note.

The discussion thread on the social network started when a Bluemont resident posted the following complaint about a “rude confrontation” at the neighborhood’s well-liked Liberty gas station at 5201 Wilson Blvd. It concluded 18 hours later with something rare to behold these days within the online fighting pits: genuine self-reflection and the promise of an apology.

“I want to warn other dog walkers that you might get an earful from the company if you try and dispose of your dog’s waste in their bins,” said the man’s original post. “There’s a public bin within a few meters.”

The comments in response were immediately negative, questioning why he had not just dropped the doggy doo doo in the public waste bin and whether the post was real, which led to the poster doubling down and threatening to boycott the gas station.

Not a hoax. If they don’t want me throwing things away in the trash while I’m not paying for gas. Ok, I got.

It was more the way the employee had interacted with me, as if I’m the only one ever throwing away trash (which is always going to be stinky) in their trash bin. As if I, on this one day in particular, was the reason he’s had to empty out trash every day of his life.

Now I won’t be paying for gas there or using their services again; as any consumer has that right.

More than 150 comments followed in the proceeding 18 hours, mostly upbraiding the poster and defending the employee.

“You’re throwing literal feces, not generic gas station waste, into a private trash can and wrote a page trying to besmirch their business for making a reasonable request on how their property is used, as is their right, and expect to not seem entitled?” wrote a Maywood resident in response. “You hit all the marks for it in your diatribe and then instead of just saying okay no problem with respect you deflected to ‘well it’s not just me’ and pushed your point.”

“If you really respected this gentleman just doing his job, you would have immediately apologized and promised to not do it again. Instead, you chose to initiate a confrontation. And he responded, as would anyone!” wrote a Westover resident. “That doesn’t make him rude. Instead, it only proved your inability to accept responsibility. What would you have done if someone walked up to use the trash can on your porch for any trash, poop or not?”

Amid the pile-on — which eventually came to include Alexandria, D.C. and Fairfax County residents, as Nextdoor seems to expand the geographic radius of users who see local posts when one is receiving high engagement — some remarked on the relative frequency of and passionate response to posts involving dog poop in the platform.

A common Nextdoor discussion, they pointed out, involves disputes over neighbors tossing feces-filled bags in each other’s trash cans.

“One thing I have learned on Nextdoor is that some people have no issue at all with throwing dog poop in a bag in any trash can available, and that some people feel extremely strongly that it should never be done,” observed a Rock Spring resident. “And that the two sides don’t remotely understand how the other could feel that way.”

“If you regularly follow the posts on Nextdoor, you’ll see that it’s not just businesses — residents complaining rather vehemently about people throwing odiferous ‘doggie bags’ into their trash carts is a recurring topic here,” concurred a Lyon Park resident. “Perhaps that should give you some perspective on the employee’s reaction.”

Later in the discussion, an Arlingwood resident implored the original poster to see the error of his ways.

Classic justification for rude, entitled behavior that is commonplace in this area. Just apologizing & taking your dog poop home would have been SO much easier than engaging in ugly words that clearly ruined both of your day’s. Then writing a post to try to elicit sympathy? Get others to boycott a business because you didn’t like how you were treated when you were in the wrong? Insisting you were in the right because you spend money there? Naw man. Sounds like some self examination is in order. Pan out, try to see the big picture, have empathy for others & try to see their side instead of demeaning them when you can’t. Admit when you might be wrong & change. This is how we grow.

Bucking the trend of endless internet arguments, the Bluemont resident did just that — while closing the discussion thread. He posted the following yesterday afternoon.

All, this topic has really gone off the rails. The mods are recommending I close it. Before I do that, let me leave one final comment before I close the thread to new comments.

If you can get past the snarkiness and nastiness of the comments, I can see the point of the opposition. I don’t think there is a truly a right or wrong in most cases. There is always a grey area. Was I right in some sense, yes. Was I wrong in some sense, yes. Same thing for the employee.

But I hate the divisiveness I see in the comments which I feel is reflected in our society too often these days. So, I wanted to do better. I went over earlier to find the employee to apologize. Unfortunately, he doesn’t return until tonight in which case I will smooth things over with him then.

Lets all try and do better.

An ARLnow poll earlier this week suggested that over half of locals use Nextdoor, though its overall use may be declining.

Photo via Google Maps

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