I appreciate the varied ways our communities communicate, and the ready accessibility of the public officials and government enabled via electronic communications. Things like the MPD-3D mailing list and the Logan Circle News mailing list allow us to cut through the morass of inefficiency and bureaucracy, straight to the heart of the matter - and often the solution.
Lately, though, I find myself annoyed and frustrated by the continued degeneration of these tools into mere paging services for citizens, not to be bothered with seeking answers to questions on their own, as a sort of fact-well from which to pump gossip and stories to quench their own undying, self-indulgent curiosity.
Here’s a prime example, posted to the MPD-3D list on June 23, 2007, at 12:54:
Could anyone from the MPD give some details as to what happened at 8th and R Streets last night?
It’s followed up by the same poster, a mere 27 hours later, with:
I know that yesterday was a busy day with all of the events going on in DC but I was hoping that you may be able to tell me what happened on 8th Street between RI Ave and R Street on Friday night…thanks.
When pressed for a little more specific information, he responds:
Somewhere between 7 and 11? Seriously, it was a shooting but I am curious on details…right outside of the Lincoln Westmoreland
Really? You’re curious? You’re pestering a very busy police officer for information because you’re curious? Here’s an idea: Control your curiosity, and restrain from harassing our officers just to satisfy your passing fancy. They have jobs to do.
And how about this gem, sent tonight to the Logan Circle News list:
Can someone from the ANC please advise about the Chinatown Bus Problems agenda item? I’m a regular user of these buses.
Now, it’s clear that you’ve seen the agenda for the upcoming ANC 2F meeting. It follows, then, that you know both the location of the meeting (Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle NW) and the date and time of the meeting (July 11 at 19:00), since they’re both at the top of the agenda you read to pose your question. It seems a fair conclusion to draw that this topic, about which you’ve asked, is going to be discussed at this very meeting!
Perhaps you should consider attending it, and learning - along with the rest of us - what the problems are, at which time you’ll probably be given a chance to raise any questions, along with everybody else. It will certainly be more useful than wasting the time of the too-polite commissioner who will respond, who I assure you is at least as busy and important as you are.
What’s that? Are you going to be out of town? Perhaps you should consider contacting your own elected commissioner directly. After all, that’s why they ran for office. There’s a nice helpful list, including contact information, for just that purpose. Isn’t the Internet amazing!
Of course, I don’t expect anything to really change. But the ever-increasing sense of personal entitlement, and the ensuing outrage when a response is not immediately forthcoming, exhibited by some of the residents on these lists is just so frustrating. I can only imagine at that the frustration of the officers and officials at which these incessant requests for hyper-personal attention are directed. It must be overwhelming at times. Please remember that we’re not all like that.
And for those who are like that: Yes, you pay taxes and work hard and want results from your city. But please at least try to remember that you really aren’t the most important person in the District.