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JONESBORO, Ark. – Calling attention to social injustices on the local scale can be politically tricky but some anonymous page creators have found hilarious ways around the problem, including in Jonesboro.
On Nov. 5, 2018, People of Jonesboro was created. While some may confuse satire pages like The City of Paragould for the actual city pages, it has not been as challenging to differentiate for readers of the People of Jonesboro.
NEA Report interviewed the creator of the page. While this reporter was made aware of the identity of the page owner, we agreed to offer anonymity due to the nature of many of the posts and possible backlash which could be had from it. The page admin specifically mentioned backlash toward family as a major concern.
“I’ll reveal my identity maybe sometime in the future.”
The posts are intentionally about social injustices faced in the area. From “running off homeless shelters,” to “ignoring rape kits,” these are documented problems plaguing NEA that have been reported by news agencies.
It’s no coincidence these are the subjects most often broached by the People’s page.
“Yes, I am doing it intentionally. I’m pointing out the injustice in our ‘justice system’ that have surfaced lately no one has truly talked about on an anonymous platform I’ve built. I’m also pointing out the obvious reputation this city has for our many churches and widely known religious culture we live in, and yet issues like helping people with real problems have been ignored and looked over (like our homeless shelter and neglectful landlords/entrepreneurs that are abusing their favored legal rights to run a proper housing space for tenants).”
The anonymous admin page admin said Jonesboro needs to improve by making the people’s needs first. Specifically, “stop with the political ties/secrecy with our city authorities and church leaders,” was the direct advice that the author had.
“We’ve all witnessed favoring homeowner’s cries for property value rather than allowing our homeless shelters we desperately need and letting churches sweep scandals under the rug and still are allowed to continue to run. We have people living in moldy apartments complexes, living in rent houses that aren’t “suitable for living”, and now our police department has openly stated they have rape kits lying around without being tested because they are pushing their own personal beliefs and judgment on people who make these claims and have indeed neglected their job to help seek justice for both the rape victims and the accused.”
The People of Jonesboro page has just over 3,000 followers in its short few months of being operated. Much of reason for the page’s popularity increase came from the page’s commentary on pothole problems and road issues.
“It’s evident our pothole problems have been a long term issue the city has decided to temporary slap on metal plates that hasn’t truly helped our drivers and their vehicles. It has caused more bad than good, evidently. I don’t think the city is paying for the damages caused by their temporary solution and as a matter of fact, this is one of the largest reason why this page got even more popular.”
But another reason the page got popular early on was because of a meme about a new steakhouse announcement. Despite other more pressing social issues, the author said the community seemed focused on the wrong things.
“I’m very limited to expressing my political thoughts on my personal page so a lot of my own life is very private to deter any ethical issues from my day job and future employers. I also don’t like that much personal attention, so I made this page. I didn’t think it would get as big as it’s gotten and I’m truly overwhelmed.”
Both the page admin’s partner and the page admin collaborate on ideas for what to post next. Much of the inspiration from the page comes from internet culture.
“We both watch a lot of Vines, Tic-Tocs, and have been on the internet long enough to remember when we used dial up speed internet, AOL, and MySpace. So, yeah we have worked on some of the memes together that are posted on our page and sometimes we just sit in bed laughing at some of the material we come up.”
Staying in touch with what the “kids are up to today” is a humorous way to put what the page does: stay topical. Current topics, subjects, discussions and news items are all fair game. But the admin seeks to take these discussions formerly reserved for a sleepy room of elderly white men and to inject new life by making them interesting to younger generations.
“They are the future, how else to help them grasp about local issues than to truly speak to them in a way they, and even other internet-cultured adults, universally understand? One answer. Memes”
While the memes created are coming from a comical perspective, the page’s admin said it all boils down to a very harsh truth. As long as people are talking about that truth, the page’s goal is being achieved.
“I’m aware not everything I post is agreeable, but as long as the people are talking, sharing my memes in agreement, I don’t see how you could turn the other way and ignore these obvious problems that people are aware of and we need to fix.”