Blog post creates Facebook frenzy


Patsy Pridgen


Life Columnist

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Maybe it was because I referred to the Holy Hope Heritage Center, owned by the family of Councilman Andre Knight, as “Andre’s Church.” Or maybe it was the picture I posted of the structure sitting in the middle of the parking lot of the Rocky Mount Event Center, a fact I labeled “bizarre.”

Whatever button I inadvertently pushed, the very first person to reply to my blog posting, shared on the Rocky Mount Concerned Citizens Facebook page on Feb. 9, was the man himself, Councilman Andre Knight. “Sad! Smh” he wrote.

“What does Smh mean?” I asked my husband. “Show me honey? Sure miss home?” I wanted to know before responding. I was also puzzled by who was sad. Councilman Knight or me? I had posted about how perceived City Council favoritism and community development incompetence were keeping me from the sunny side of life, so maybe me?

I never replied. By the time my husband learned from a Google search that Smh is an Internet acronym for “shaking my head,” others had whipped out comments. The discussion quickly digressed from anything I had written to an all-out Saturday night brawl on Facebook. Insults flew back and forth, and there was little substance in many comments. My only post during this multi-hour online shouting match was to ask if there was an administrator who could shut it down.

I was assured the site was being monitored, and I did see the occasional reprimand to “please refrain from attacking each other.” And in retrospect, I’m glad the party line stayed open for this comment to Andre Knight from Telegram reporter Lindell John Kay. “Councilman,” he wrote, “I’ve been trying to reach you for days via email, text and phone about 116 Tarboro. I wish you would have returned messages, but there is a story about your property in the newspaper tomorrow ...”

Wow. I almost fell out of my chair when I read that. Apart from my dread about what fresh horror the story would reveal — the lack of an ABC permit for a club at this address, I later learned from Monday’s Telegram — there was the sad fact that a reporter had to resort to Facebook to contact a councilman. Or that any of us did, for that matter. Rocky Mount citizens wanted straightforward answers, but it seemed there had been a gag order in place. With the exception of a few remarks by Councilwoman Chris Miller, we’d been stonewalled by our city leaders.

My blog did a booming business that Saturday. I wasn’t the drawing card, however. People posted on the Rocky Mount Concerned Citizens Facebook page, hoping to hear something of substance from a councilperson. With only cryptic messages such as the one sent to me or rants about past racism, though, there were no relevant explanations from Councilman Knight. It was a wild Saturday night on Facebook with few people hitting the pause button. At the end of it all, though, what I read was mostly full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Check out Patsy Pridgen’s blog at www.patsypridgen.com.