I'm not a fan of living in small towns. It feels too isolated, too cloistered, and too poisonous to me. Give me a large, diverse population bristling with ideas and culture any day of the week.
There is a note to this story, a subtext, that as long as the gossip and pettiness was in the hands of a few Elite Old People it was okay, but as soon as anyone had the power to sit in judgment on their neighbors it became a problem.
Look, the problem here isn't that people are being anonymous dicks on the internet, it's that other people in the small town are believing what anonymous dicks post on the internet.
Small-Town Gossip Moves to the Web, Anonymous and Vicious - NYTimes.com
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But of late, more people in this hardscrabble town of 5,000 have shifted from sharing the latest news and rumors over eggs and coffee to the Mountain Grove Forum on a social media Web site called Topix, where they write and read startlingly negative posts, all cloaked in anonymity, about one another.
And in Dee’s Place, people are not happy. A waitress, Pheobe Best, said that the site had provoked fights and caused divorces. The diner’s owner, Jim Deverell, called Topix a “cesspool of character assassination.” And hearing the conversation, Shane James, the cook, wandered out of the kitchen tense with anger.
His wife, Jennifer, had been the target in a post titled “freak,” he said, which described the mother of two as, among other things, “a methed-out, doped-out whore with AIDS.” Not a word was true, Mr. and Ms. James said, but the consequences were real enough.
Friends and relatives stopped speaking to them. Trips to the grocery store brought a crushing barrage of knowing glances. She wept constantly and even considered suicide. Now, the couple has resolved to move.
“I’ll never come back to this town again,” Ms. James said in an interview at the diner. “I just want to get the hell away from here.”
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