A renowned psychology professor has claimed that several local Facebook community groups are running the severe risk of falling in on themselves at the moment, following months of suburban tension caused by COVID-19 restrictions. Professor Joanne Lancaster has told The Watsonia Bugle that increased online activity in times of crisis brings out the best and worst in people, and some pages have been leaning towards the worst for a couple of months now.

Professor Lancaster reported seeing an increasing number of seemingly well-meaning posts that are actually just an opportunity to promote an individual’s good deed, and that could eventually prompt people to turn to more traditional avenues of information and community support – such as alcohol, the Daily Mail, and angrily screaming at the moon. She said, “It’s a bit like that old tree falling in the woods metaphor. If you performed a good deed in your community, was it still a good deed if it isn’t broadcast to thousands of people on multiple social media platforms? Sadly, it seems some people think not, which is tolerable at first, but the novelty wears off fairly quickly.”

While the positives and negatives of such groups are well-documented, we have entered unchartered waters this year, leaving the long-suffering page admins unsure how to proceed. Reminders of the rules for each group seem to be popping up on an almost weekly basis, as some members strive to out fellow residents for such heinous crimes as not picking up their dog’s poo, failing to appropriately follow social distancing measures, and refusing to genuflect when they pass Noodle Station.

We will continue to closely monitor this situation.