Social intervention, new media style

BitDepth#954 for September 16

The popular Facebook pages of the issue specific social intervention websites Bad Parkers of T&T and TriniHomewreckers.com.
The popular Facebook pages of the issue specific social intervention websites Bad Parkers of T&T and TriniHomewreckers.com.

In an era in which everyone not only has an opinion, but multiple avenues for expressing those thoughts, it’s surprising that there are few efforts at making sustained social interventions using readily available Internet tools.

Most issues earn a rash of comments, usually on Facebook, the occasional Twitter flare-up and the odd change.org petition.

At least two people have managed to be so irritated at a perceived injustice that they have created a continuing, Internet-based effort to keep discussion alive on matters that concern them.

Roger Jackson, a Hospitality Management consultant for the last 35 years, created and runs the popular Facebook group Bad Parkers of T&T  which has attracted 3,444 members in just three months.

“I have been observing the way people park at malls, multi storey car parks, banks, groceries, churches, offices and basically anywhere that people park,” he explained.

“As OCD as I am, I thrive on perfection and seeing cars parked outside of lines, in handicap parking spaces when they should not be or simply parking badly causing inconvenience to others really started to bother me and I thought I would share this with others who I know feel the same way as I do.”

There was a personal spark for this project, and it was one that stuck in Jackson’s craw.

“I was trying to park at a mall a few months ago with my mum, who is 93 and needs a wheelchair to move around, when I [found I] could not use the handicap parking because it was already occupied.”

“I drove around the parking lot and finally found a spot where I could park my car with enough room to open the front door to manoeuvre my mother into her wheelchair, when along comes another car and pulls in the spot next to me and basically refused to move even though I explained about the wheelchair and my mother.”

“To me that was an inconsiderate bad park. There were other spaces available.”

From the start, content flowed to the page, the first surge of members quickly getting the idea of capturing acts of automotive negligence with their cameraphones.

Now members post “every hour on the hour,” and Jackson’s main role is in managing a thriving though occasionally rowdy group.

“I have not had anyone challenge me on an offensive post, but I have had to referee between a few members when their posts got out of hand and quite personal.”

For such a large and impassioned group, it’s a bit surprising to discover that Jackson has only had to eject two members, but as he notes “they both really did not belong in the group.”

The anonymous owner of trinihomewreckers.com, a website dedicated to outing women accused of breaking up relationships with a sideline in deadbeat dads, was cagey about contributing to this column.

The supporting Facebook page has won 15,222 likes and even spawned a dissenting page on Facebook, Shut Down Trinihomewreckers Website Now, which has attracted a rather less daunting 185 likes since it was created in March.

The website, which logs thousands of visitors per day, was started in November 2013 as “an outlet to allow persons to vent.”

“Let it all out by sharing your story,” the TriniHomewreckers proprietor wrote in response to e-mailed questions.

“I know that there are families that are hurting because of infidelity and betrayal. I have seen families torn apart and children hurting because of this. I also think that others experience will inspire, and to some extent deter, persons from making the same mistakes. I hope it does.”

As cautionary tales go, the posts are both raw and disturbing in their bluntness. It isn’t an easy read if you aren’t already angry about being horned or abandoned and most of the posts veer between slut-shaming and outright libel.

That hasn’t stopped businesses from advertising dating and event planning services on the popular website.

The website got off to a slow start, the owner explained, but then one of the stories went viral and “people became less afraid and began sending in their contributions.”

“The response so far has been overwhelming.”

Dissenters to the concept note that it’s possible for stories to be one-sided or just plain maliciously wrong, but the site’s owner notes that her experience is quite different.

“I read the comments on the website daily, and I have seen readers go back and forth with each other on the topic of family life, infidelity, adultery, betrayal, love and honesty.”

“I can honestly say that the wider community will benefit from frequenting my website as these topics are addressed and discussed in depth. There isn’t even any need for me to give advice, as my readers seem quite capable of doing so.”

There’s a longer interview with site’s owner under the unlikely name of Krystal Bleu here.

TriniHomewreckers has a forum, but it’s barely used; the comments on posts are far more active. Both site owners make extensive use of Facebook’s community tools and potential audience, though Jackson hasn’t bothered to create an independent Internet presence.

“I prefer Facebook as it is a very popular internet site with a massive market all in one package.”
“ÒIt is a household and business name. The world is Facebook!”