As a relatively new resident of Shakopee, there are many beautiful sites and locations I have found. The accessible parks are great for my kids, the riverfront area is a lovely place to take a stroll, and the downtown area is as exciting as it is welcoming.

Unfortunately, there is one place I have visited that is not quite as beautiful or welcoming. It’s not a location hard to find, and you don’t even need to leave your home to get there. This landscape of negativity is actually found online. All you need to do is go online, walk through the doors of Facebook and take a strong right turn and there you are: the page called Concerned Citizens of Shakopee.

Now I’ve spent enough time on that page to know that there are many fine individuals belonging to said group. In fact, at over 9,000 members, I would guess the majority of folks on that site are good people.

Unfortunately, as is the case in many situations, a few bad apples seem to have spoiled this page. Individuals throw around words like socialism and communism as if Shakopee is on the brink of erecting a Lenin statute, needlessly riling up a community that already has enough actual heartbreak in its recent past.

All it takes is a simple comment that goes against another person’s political ideology, and bam! an entire thread of your own neighbors line up to tell you how idiotic you are. I mean, some of these members are so ruthless that they have shared malicious parody Facebook pages of a politician in their own political party. And unfortunately, I also succumbed to the vitriolic rhetoric.

In my short stint as a member of CCOS, I found my blood pressure rising. I said things to strangers that I wouldn’t dare say in person. My face was locked in my phone amidst some heated online debate instead of looking up at my own children in their times of play and of need.

I found myself wondering why I chose to buy a house in a neighborhood surrounded by people that seemed anything but neighborly. And finally, I took the only reasonable action remaining. I left the Concerned Citizens of Shakopee group and used my time to address my concerns in a meaningful way through action.

I am all for free speech, and I am the last person to say that any group should be censured. But I can tell you that since I have left this group, I have not missed out on any local news or upcoming event.

And I certainly don’t feel any less connected to my community. In fact, I feel more connected because I know that the next time I am at Turtles or The Muddy Cow and I meet someone, even if I disagree with my neighbor, our conversation will be one with passion, reason, and most of all empathy.

Because in the end, we just want to see Shakopee succeed in the best way possible. These conversations are the ones that have helped me grow into a unconcerned citizen of Shakopee. And let me tell you, Shakopee life on the outside of the internet is pretty dang beautiful. I hope some of my fellow concerned citizens join me out here in the real word.

Bill Skar is an educator in a neighboring community and is living the dream with his wife and two children in Shakopee


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