Floyd D. Pretz 
In the July 17 issue of The Gardner News, Danedri Thompson wrote an opinion piece titled ‘Social media paints ugly picture of Gardner’.
The overall theme of Thompson’s opinion piece was that our Facebook group is not only giving readers a negative view of Gardner but also gives her pause to call Gardner her home.  She implies that the main reason she stays in Gardner is because of her marriage, in spite of our Facebook group.  Wow.
I had no idea our group could have such an impact, and I doubt that it does – though her saying so would serve to legitimize the rest of her column.
This same group in any other community would have a similar mix of mostly good, a few misguided and a dabble of bad postings.  Do we judge any community based on what we read in an ad-hoc Facebook group? Certainly not.  Realistic adults understand there is an element of crazies in any random gathering of peoples.  What we do as intelligent adults is mostly ignore them.  Sometimes we even find humor in their ramblings.
Thompson seemed to pine about her disappointment in our group.  She had high hopes that since our posters could not be anonymous, that we would behave ourselves.  I am smiling as I write this because of the naivety of such a hope.  Everyone has an opinion, the right one and those of everyone else.  Do we cease to express our thoughts simply because people know who we are? In fact, allowing really stupid people to express their really stupid thoughts gives us the opportunity to know the really stupid them and then make a mental bookmark to ignore anything else they have to say.  I could post negative vitriolic entries about some of our most beloved businesses and it would have zero impact on either their business or anyone’s opinion of their business.  It would only brand me as another idiot to ignore.
I do agree with Thompson that some folks go overboard in being rude, nasty and juvenile in what they write and that our group is no place for personal attacks, etc.  But is any of this a reflection of Gardner as a community or of its general citizenry?  No.  Should we censor those folks or take away their freedom of expression?  I think not.
I find that this Gardner News opinion column was off the mark.  It addressed the writer’s disappoint in our Facebook group and was misguided in extending her disappointment into a larger ‘ugly picture’ of Gardner. My final though is this: Any person who reads our group’s Facebook page and then makes a decision to not move to (or stay in) Gardner is probably not someone who would appreciate what a wonderful community we have here anyway.  We do have a wonderful community and a great Facebook group.
I myself, tip my hat to the creators and members of the ‘Citizens For The Future Of Gardner’ Facebook Group.  Post On.