TAKOMA PARK — After dozens of recent controversies disrupted this perfectly tranquil community, the Takoma Park City Council announced it would create a new agency, the Local Internet Disputes Department (LIDD).
Approved by a 7-0 City Council vote, the Takoma Park LIDD will be equipped with a 45-person staff comprised of mediators, lawyers, social workers, fact-checkers, massage therapists, organic nutritionists and dog psychologists. All are trained to settle disputes breaking out on Takoma Park’s email listservs and social media sites.
“This is a win-win for the city,” stated the City Manager. “Not only will we create peace among our residents, but we can also justify raising our property taxes by creating yet another massive government agency.”
The City Manager said she expects the creation of LIDD will improve productivity for city employees currently forced to spend countless hours answering hyper-specific questions prompted by neighborhood listservs. LIDD staff will also offer free 30 minute in-person mediation sessions for aggrieved residents.
“On the surface, Takoma Park is a quaint little town, full of peaceful people waving hello to each other as they drink their lattes at the local coffee shop,” stated the City Manager. “But, as they turn their heads down to their smartphones, they enter a dark, underground world of anger, revenge, despair, and rage. It’s like they are trapped in a world where all intersections are Takoma Junction and they’re stuck at a red light with nobody around at 2 a.m.”
Potential topics for mediation by LIDD include, but are not limited to: sidewalks, traffic, new buildings over two stories, open space, the Middle East conflict, vegan food, dog defecation etiquette, stormwater management, capitalism, real Internet facts about 5G cell phone towers, the city tree canopy, why you shouldn’t park your stupid car where I just plowed the damn snow in front of my house, and the works of Noam Chomsky.
To promote the program, the city plans to spend the summer passing out bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with the slogan “Put a LIDD on it” at local festivals.
One of LIDD’s first clients was Dennis Patterson, who recently got into a heated discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Takoma Junction development with one of his neighbors, Martha Ficklestein. “She called me a corporate, neoliberal shill and I called her a naive hippie,” Patterson said.
After two meetings with LIDD, Patterson and Ficklestein said they wished they had never started the political argument in the first place. “LIDD taught us to find common ground,” stated Ficklestein. “It turns out we are both super progressive, but also love Taco Bell. Now we’ve joined forces to fight others on the listserv who want to rid the city of this great establishment.”
While LIDD has de-escalated several conflicts, not all were thrilled with the creation of this new agency.
Writing on the PEN listserv, 33-year resident Dorothy Worthington remarked, “Yet another terrible idea from our incompetent, do-gooder city officials. If I want to spend 20 hours a week arguing with my neighbors online, I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about it.”
She added: “Also, I can’t help it if I’m the only one who knows how to perfectly balance the city’s budget while ending gentrification, wiping out corporations, creating unlimited affordable housing and hosting festivals with world-renowned drum circles and fire dancers every weekend.”