By Dan Spalding
Trolls are the worst.
They descend on a subject with glee, shrouded behind a keyboard (wrote the guy sitting behind a keyboard).
Sifting through comments can be a dreadful chore when a story fuels toxic reactions.
But I find it odd how people are so willing to criticize their own community. That was the case Tuesday when readers got an update on frustrations motorists and city leaders are facing with traffic signals, street changes and what feels like an accumulating amount of congestion.
Yes, the installation of a synchronized traffic control system that will eventually coordinate with train traffic has been a slow-rolling disaster from the public perception, but it’s a work in progress – along with the paving and utility on SR 15 (North Detroit Street) and work on Hickory Street, has been a lot for motorists to contend with in recent weeks.
Add to that, the three new sets of stoplights along the east side of the tracks and it does seem like a lot to deal with. (It’s a good idea in terms of train traffic safety).
So then came the comments on Facebook:
I appreciate the give-and-take via Facebook comments, but many are just over the top.
Some readers suggest traffic is an on-going disaster. Or they refuse to venture into the city as if it’s a death trap.
Another reader claimed they’d rather drive in downtown Indianapolis at 5 o’clock on a Friday than in Warsaw.
Such comments make my head want to explode. My guess is that people who say Indy traffic is easier to navigate than Warsaw probably passed through Indy once – at 2 a.m. on their way to Florida.
In reality, we have a few blocks of congestion, complicated by two sets of railroad tracks.
But almost as quickly, my mood lifted when hours later, I watched the comments begin pouring in after we posted a feature story on Warsaw Sign Wars, the oddly spontaneous trend in which local businesses take playful shots at competitors and other retail operations.
The friendly competition snowballed in the past week and has been one of the coolest stories I’ve ever watched unfold.
The humorous banter, full of puns, was exactly what we needed as we finally escape from a dreadful pandemic.
In comment after comment, readers expressed love and appreciation for the sign wars. Hundreds of comments and nary a single complaint, which is unheard of.
Sign wars won’t last forever, but won’t soon be forgotten. it’s been a joy, mostly because it’s brought people together. In a small way, it helps build a sense of community whether you notice it or not.
We live in a great community, but the tracks aren’t going away. The idea of an overpass or underpass is dead. But I believe eventually, the signals will be synched and traffic flow will improve.
Warsaw is a growing community facing serious growing pains. Some people don’t know how good we’ve got it in Warsaw. Low crime. Low cost of living. Three lakes and a thriving industrial base that is the envy of nearly every city in Indiana.
By the end of the day Tuesday, after rifling through hundreds of comments, I came to a groovy, yet true conclusion.
It’s not the roads that make a community, it’s the people. We have great store owners and community leaders and a community that cares.
In the meantime, pump the brakes. Let go of the anger. Give it time. It will get better.
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WINNING BY LOSING – Former Elkhart County Chamber executive and Elkhart City Council member Kyle Hannon stole my idea for a book.
For years, I have always felt a soft spot for those who run for elected office and lose. I’ve always thought it would be an eye-opener to look into the emotional impact of those who run and lost.
Hannon, who now lives outside of Bloomington, has done just that with a new book titled, “The One Who Lost: When Your Campaign Doesn’t Work.”
As Hannon writes, losing an election is one of the most difficult, emotionally draining experiences a person can face. Especially a local election where you continue to be friends and neighbors with your opponent and your opponent’s supporters.
This book is an inside look at what it is like to campaign, lose, and continue to serve. If you are an unsuccessful candidate or are friends with one, this book lets you know you are not alone.
The book leans heavily on Elkhart politics, with contributions from Vince Turner, Ashley Boling Molyneaux, Adam Bujalski, Kate Healey Snedeker, Brian Dickerson, Mike Yoder, Carol McDowell Loshbough, Tina Weldy, Rep. Dale Devon and Sen. Mike Young.
The book is available online at Amazon.com.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.