The other morning, after a Tinder match turned stride of pride (walks of shames are only for girls with cracked iPhone screens or loose hair extensions from getting them pulled), I found myself having to take the bus home from Scranton because I thought it was more important to sneak out early and steal “The LEGO Movie” on DVD than to stay and ask for a ride home.
“You didn’t pay!” yelled the bus driver as I walked past him.
Apparently it costs $1.75 to take the bus. I didn’t know you had to pay for public transportation around here. I just thought if you showed up and looked like you made enough mistakes in life they just let you on.
As it turned out, the $1.75 was well worth the price of the show I was about to witness – even if I had to view it from a seat I wasn’t vaccinated to sit on.
I quickly noticed that I was the only one not holding a pack of cigs and a plastic bag from a dollar store. When I saw a woman showing her friend the silverware she bought, two thoughts instantly popped in my head: 1. That spoon in her hand was going to be hovering over a flame before the day’s end, and 2. What I’m looking at looks like an image you’d find on the “Scranton Sucks” Facebook page.
With 11,000 fans and counting, “Scranton Sucks” has become a staple of entertainment in NEPA since its launch last fall. Administrated by a group of anonymous Scranton business professionals, I locked down their first interview – where I was unexpectedly introduced to their intelligent outlook on how to utilize social media to get people thinking and talking about what changes they feel need to be made in their community.
WEEKENDER: Some people may ask, “If you think Scranton sucks so badly, why don’t you move?” What is your response to them?
SCRANTON SUCKS: To leave the house that you live in here, you would have to take a loss. The property would sit idle until the value dropped so low that a slumlord would scoop it up and rent it out to University students or low income transplants from Jersey or New York. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks to up and leave. Some of us have comfortable, well-paying jobs in the area, and it’s quite cheap to live here. Sure, it’s not the prettiest place to live or the friendliest place, but we all grew up here. We have memories of a better time, when you could walk through West Side without fear of shanking or shooting.
W: Fans of the page have an active role in providing content. My favorite was the local news reporter deep-throating a corn dog on TV. What is your favorite fan submission?
SS: My favorite fan submission, with 522 likes, is the “Hey Arnold!” meme, where Grandpa’s car is stuck in a massive pothole.
W: Not only does your page provide disturbingly hilarious memes accounting for the behavior of Scrantonians, it also puts local government on blast. How has the mission of your page evolved with its popularity and ability to reach a large audience?
SS: It didn’t start this way… but you could say that we sometimes utilize the page to get the gears turning in our fans’ heads about what actually is going on in the city and the corruption that most turn a blind eye to for fear of retaliation or just plain ignorance.
W: What do you think could make Scranton not suck?
SS: We should entice more businesses to stay or bring their work here. We have the University of Scranton, Marywood, Penn State Worthington-Scranton, and Lackawanna College pumping out highly educated graduates every year. These are white collar graduates in a blue collar or no collar work area. No wonder they all leave and we are left with an aging population on a fixed income.
What are our elected officials doing? Raising taxes and creating new ones, all while the people that we need here most flee the area in search of jobs and a better life elsewhere. We need a functioning school system here. They can’t agree on anything, the director was removed for probably some political reason. We are known, nationwide, for political corruption here. The voter turnout was a staggering 31 percent in Scranton. I’d love to see someone come in here and really clean house on the government in this area. That, above all, is what Scranton needs. The city should be accountable for the itemized expenditures paid by the taxpayers of the city. Our budget covers a lot of things, including the officials’ overtimes and pensions. We have much more to say on this matter, but it can best be expressed through our daily posts on our Facebook page.