Let me begin by saying I do not live in Xenia. Have not since the late 70s.
I lived in Amlin Heights during the mid 70s to 1982 when we moved to Wilberforce. Combined with my 10-plus years in Cary, N.C., I have lived less than half my life in Xenia, although most of it has been within four miles or less.
At one time in my career I considered my hometown to be a fairly welcoming, laid back, pleasant community. It still may be. I certainly do not know all of the people in Xenia and pretty much only interact with the ones I have been friends with for a long time, from high school and even earlier, except online.
However, I have been made aware of the fact that at least in the world of social media, Xenia is not a nice place. There are at least two sites that have Xenia in the title that are virulently racist and quite frankly just about against everything and everybody. I mourn for the efforts of the town leaders and the chamber of commerce to attract new businesses, new residents, or even visitors to Xenia if those potential connections check out social media.
As with most folks who are malcontent, the people on those sites may well be a vocal, or in this case a typing, minority and not indicative of the culture and climate of the town at all. But, a fairly casual check will show you that these sites seem to have a lot more traffic than the more innocuous ones like the Xenia City Page or the Xenia Our Hometown Page. This would lead one to think that a casual observer would believe that Xenia is not a welcoming or equitable place.
With the fairly recent shooting up of the Democratic headquarters, not once, but twice, with no one held to account for it, one might believe that the ugly sites are showing an accurate picture of the climate.
I stay in contact with a pretty large number of my former students from Warner, Central and the high school and I am always bemoaning the fact that more of them did not stay in Xenia, settle down, and raise their families here. A lot of them point to sites like the ones with Xenia in their title on social media and ask me why they would want to stay in a town like that.
I have no answer.
Freedom of speech and the inability of most people and agencies to control social media mean that the people posting negative things have every right to do so. I am just rather surprised that no one seems to grasp, or perhaps they do not care, that the profile they give to Xenia is not one that would make the town attractive to most people either to visit or make their home.
I see all kinds of suggestions about how to make the town better, to draw more businesses, more people, more attractions to town. In 2020, employers, people interested in re-locating, businesses, virtually anyone or any entity that would be a boon to Xenia will do some research online first to see what kind of town it is. I wonder how many have pulled up one of the hateful sites and said “No thanks?”
I want the town to flourish, to grow, to become more affluent, and a better place to live. However, some attention has to be given to what the image presented online looks like to strangers.
You never know what you might be missing out on.
Cookie Newsom is a Greene County resident and columnist.