Something is up in Bellflower, California – citizens there seem to have a lot of bile to spew.
Nearly a third of all the online comments made by people living in the Southern California city over the last 16 months were hostile or toxic, according to a new report by Wired that was based on data from Disqus. That proportion of hostile comments was 335% higher than proportion for the rest of the state, according to the report.
The magazine and Disqus, a company that offers online discussion services for web sites, analyzed 92 million comments from internet users nationwide that were left over a 16-month period. The magazine and Disqus defined toxic comments as ones that are “rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable” and that would be likely to make someone “leave a discussion.”
Some 32.7% of the comments coming from Bellflower qualified as toxic. By comparison, only 8.1% of the comments emanating from neighboring Los Angeles were considered as toxic.
So what’s Bellflower’s problem? On the surface, it doesn’t seem to be a bad place. But who knows what angers the trolls.
Bellflower calls itself “The Friendly City.”
- Google Maps
It appears to be a standard suburban city. Located just north of Long Beach and due east from Compton, the city is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
It’s a medium-sized city with a relatively young population — and a quite a bit of crime.
Some 77,790 people lived in Bellflower as of last year, and the median age of its residents was 32, according to US Census data.
The city is definitely not Beverly Hills; the median household income in Bellflower in 2015 was $48,823, according to Census data.
The city also isn’t exactly quiet. With some 163 crimes per 10,000 people over a recent six month period, according to data from the Los Angeles Times, it has its share of crime problems. That’s above average for the Los Angeles area.
Still, Bellflower has fewer problems with crime than some of its neighbors, the data indicates.
City residents and visitors aren’t thrilled with it.
Like other cities, Bellflower has its own Yelp page. It doesn’t have a lot of reviews, but it gets a middling grade from those who have taken the time to rate it – just two-and-a-half stars.
Many of the comments are pretty negative, complaining about rude city employees and trash on the streets. The city’s apparently overzealous parking and traffic enforcement drew particular ire.
“What a dump,” one reviewer wrote on Yelp. “From the cops handing out tickets right and left for little things instead of going after the crime, car break-ins, robberies, drug dealers, [etc.]
“I just visit when I need to, but if I was a citizen, I would move the f*** out.”
But like that person, many of the people who gave the city negative comments were visitors. And some who commented had better things to say.
According to one reviewer, who gave the city top marks, Bellflower is an “awesome little city. [It’s] got that small town feel.”
The area’s biggest employer is Kaiser Permanente.
- Stephen Coburn/Shutterstock
The health provider has 308 employees in the city as of Bellflower’s 2015-2016 fiscal year, according to a city report. But it has shrunk its operations in recent years. Nine years earlier, it employed 1,057 people in the city. So maybe that’s the source of the discontent.
But maybe not. Even though Kaiser has downsized its operation, unemployment in Bellflower is really low. At 3.9% as of April, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, its significantly below both the US and statewide rates.
City officials are active on Twitter.
The city’s official Twitter account tweets almost everyday about the happenings around town. It has 1,436 followers.
While Twitter can be a vicious place, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of venom directed at Bellflower on the social network. The city’s posts generally seem to get only one or two likes, retweets or comments on average.
It’s biggest attraction appears to be a private sports venue that has soccer fields, rock climbing walls — and a giant paintball area.
- Hollywood Sports
Hollywood Sports Park has various facilities spread across its 23 acres. But much of its land is devoted to what looks like a bombed-out village that can be used for massive paintball firefights.
One might think that the park might give city residents a good outlet for their emotions.
Bellflower’s troll problem remains a mystery.
Who knows? Maybe the trolls will attack and let us know just what is so horrible about Bellflower or what’s causing them to leave so many toxic comments.