(This SL7 Consulting blog post is an exclusive excerpt from the chapter titled, The Rise of NIMBY Avatars from the Amazon bestselling book, Breaking Out of the NIMBY Matrix authored by SL7 Consulting’s Founder Patrick Slevin).
I have seen on Facebook hundreds of NIMBY-based groups actively opposing real estate development projects across the nation. These groups range from a few dozen to thousands of anti-development followers. I wouldn’t doubt the numbers of Facebook groups would number in the thousands, but again, no one is formally studying this area of burgeoning opposition.
NIMBY Avatars are a new breed of anti-development opposition. They are still one of the traditional faces of NIMBY, but now they have a digital stage and spotlight. They have a captivated and motivated audience that shares the same angst, fears, and perceptions towards new development. Additionally, they can literally share the negative content on their social media feeds, reaching more people.
Moreover, they have Facebook pages focused on opposing a specific project or company. They now have unchecked power enabling them to blatantly mischaracterize facts, spread false claims, and peddle their so-called “Google-Based Science,” which is mostly slanted opinions and unvetted blog reports.
NIMBY Avatars operate without any accountability in the digital public square. If someone opposes their opinions on a Facebook post, they’re either vilified by other followers or simply blocked from the Facebook page. I’ve seen firsthand pro-project residents or citizens advocating for my client’s projects by countering opposition’s false facts, citing proven data, to be virtually attacked and vilified: public discourse doesn’t serve the NIMBY Avatars’ objectives.
NIMBY Avatars believe their own self-generated press and see themselves as populists, even though their Facebook page followers are either a small number or mostly comprised of followers from outside their communities.
When these NIMBY Avatars actually show up to public hearing and meetings, they strut around as if they walk on water, expecting to be greeted much like royalty. They’re full of hubris and arrogance. It’s a sad reality that repeatedly manifests itself in the NIMBY Matrix™, and it’s only getting worse.
NIMBY Avatars and their Facebook opposition groups have grown in power, influence, and reach. You better believe that local officials visit their pages, comb through the comments, and see who is liking every post. For every pro-project comment, if any dare, there are 10 anti-development responses attacking the person who went up against the group. These Facebook groups have become almost militant, and any expressed doubts by group members are met with quick and derisive aggression. Digitally speaking, they’re never heard from again.
NIMBY Avatars are unquestioned and they’re the unchallenged lords of the land. Their narratives are very hard to ignore if you’re an elected official or member of the news media. Their censored echo chambers mostly convey a false reality that manifests into political trouble for corporate developers and their applications.
A Growing Concern
What’s emerging as a troubling trend, that’s only whispered in certain parts of the NIMBY Matrix™, is the networking and expansion of these Facebook opposition groups. We’re seeing more and more Facebook groups swimming like rogue sharks seeking out other projects to attack once they’re finished with the initial project. It’s not restricted to the local community either.
I’ve encountered NIMBY Avatars forging alliances with their counterparts across state lines and across the nation. They conduct recon on companies in their neck of the woods and report to the other opposition groups that’s opposing in another market.
In increasing fashion, we’re seeing 501(C)(4)s feeding local Facebook opposition groups with playbooks filled with strategies, tactics, messaging, and grassroots tools and templates. Who are behind these C4s depends on the industry, but you can make an educated guess who it is, and won’t be too far off. I’ll give you a hint – follow the money that secretly goes into these groups.
The greatest ally to these NIMBY Avatars is no one is paying attention to their growing influence, power, and reach. The NIMBY Matrix™ has successfully distracted developers who don’t see or want to see the bigger picture. However, I’ve come across a growing number of corporate professionals who have witnessed and experienced this troubling trend. It’s real and it is in the early stages of maturation.
The more this information gets out and discussed, the less influence these NIMBY Avatars will have in the public square. That’s my hope at least and why I wrote this book. More professionals who adopt a red pill perspective, the more likely we can change the current false realities hurting good people and projects.
Produce Your Own Facebook Project Page
The good news is you can effectively counter by putting up your own pro-project Facebook group pages. The public has a right to learn the merits of the project and the company that’s applying for the license to operate. You’d be surprised of the impact of putting up a Facebook page. If done correctly, you can have more people follow your page than the opposition. Not every time, but more often than you would think. I’ve had more than a few Facebook group pages win the numbers of likes and follows optics, which elected officials’ noticed.
How do you know if your Facebook page is getting the job done?
You know that your Facebook page is reaching and influencing stakeholders when the opposition feels compelled to attack your page. Typically, they will post on their Facebook pages your Facebook content. In their minds, they’re attacking you, but in reality, they’re repeating your messaging before their audience, which is a small victory. It’s a small victory, because by posting your content, they’re breaking down their echo chamber and letting in your narrative, which is always a win.
There’s best practices that you can exercise, but suffice it to say, you determine what is discussed on your Facebook page and what impressions you want to convey. The opposition has their Facebook forum to misinform, confuse, and stoke anger, so that doesn’t mean you have to allow them, to invade your Facebook page to disrupt your attempts to post positive, accurate information.
Your Facebook page can have a disclaimer that anyone who comments for the purposes of being purely argumentative, accusatory, and disrespectful to other followers and their comments, will be banned from the page. Public discourse is a commodity and thoughtfully posted comments offering questions or even rational arguments questioning the project should be welcomed and appreciated.
Certainly, the elected officials notice the constructive exchanges in this public square that you have created.
Keep this in mind, when NIMBY Avatars are attacking your Facebook page with disrespectful comments, while also attempting to discredit your Facebook page on their anti-project Facebook page, you’re effectively taking them off message and putting them on the defensive. Not to mention, exposing their self-serving arrogance in full digital display.