Everything Geraldton has grown quite large. Just on Facebook we have over 25,000 followers, 12,000 folks have the app, 40,000 or more unique visitors hit the website multiple times each month, and a few thousand mostly younger folks follow us on Instagram.
So it’s a large audience, and with a large audience comes a large number of complaints… it’s impossible to please everyone.
When we publish a story on crime, we get complaints about reporting too much crime. When we publish a story on real estate, we get complaints that we aren’t reporting on the crime. After a couple of years of this, we’ve gotten used to just getting up each day and reporting on or sharing what we think is the most relevant or interesting thing we can, and not being swayed too much by those keen to use Everything Geraldton for their own agenda, or just addicted to complaining.
But I always get saddened when we do report on important matters like crime or break-ins, and those who want to vomit hate and vitriol at “those people” show up in the comments, using such an article as proof of their world view.
I shudder to think of the things myself and many of my peers got up to in our ignorant youth.
Me personally, through the kindness of fellow humans, I ended up on a better path and now I try to contribute to a better society the best way I see how.
But I would be supremely arrogant to think I could have found that path alone.
The idea of sharing suspicious activity or crime stories isn't to incite vitriolic hatred towards the disaffected people who have ended up in a life of crime, or are socially difficult to live alongside.
It's simply there to help people stay informed, alert and safe, given the world we live in.
Surely we can be mature enough to know that the broader societal issues we face won't be solved with vigilantism, hateful comments, or disdain for our fellow humans.
Truthfully, I personally have never felt safer in Geraldton. While crime generally has NOT increased year on year (although it often spikes this time of year), I can now alert my fellow citizen to things happening instantaneously, and the police can ask for assistance from the public much quicker than in the past.
I have lived in Rangeway, I have been robbed more than once, I have had drunks sleeping on my driveway, I have had to jump the back fence to break up violent domestics, I have been called a c... walking down the street more than once, I have had to replace a front door that was kicked in, I have had my life threatened more than once, I have had to call the Police 3 times in the last month...
But I have also worked as a youth worker in Geraldton and seen first hand the start in life that many of these young kids must navigate. And despite all the things that have happened to me during my time in Geraldton, my heart is not bitter towards them, and I only have compassion and a desire to see these folks make a change in their lives for the better.
If you think you're better than them because you also had a hard life too but you chose not to be a criminal, good for you. You're clearly better than the rest of us.
Most of us are immensely shaped by the people we are around all day long, and find it extremely difficult to walk this life completely unaffected by peer pressure. But if you managed to do it all by yourself, email me your address and I'll post you a gold star.
But I can't take credit for where I am. I had a loving mother who taught me not to steal. I had a father with a little bit of money to bank roll my crazy business ideas. My parents didn’t drink, and prioritised giving their children 3 meals a day over anything else. Although I have Aboriginal heritage, I was born white as snow and have never had people look at me suspiciously because of my appearance.
And you can comment something really original like "where are the parents?" as if the parents aren't going through the exact same struggle and dealing with things like addiction, depression, jail time, fetal alcohol syndrome and a life of hurt.
If your idea of justice is giving these kids the same start in life as your privileged offspring, then by all means contribute your time, energy, money and ideas to making that a reality. If your idea of justice is just revenge, maybe get to know some of these kids personally first.