Application-only Facebook group for UA residents features recommendations, donations and arguments.


“Grab your AR’s and head downtown. It’s open season on protestors,” one post read. “Any recs for cooking classes for a 12 year old?” another asked. Both of these comments, along with many more, have been posted on the Upper Arlington Ohio Discussion Forum.

The Upper Arlington Ohio Discussion Forum began in November 2014 and has since become an application-only Facebook group for Upper Arlington residents and workers. The purpose of the forum is “to have an open forum for discussion within our great community, with the hopes that the members would feel comfortable asking questions, posting opinions, and leaning on one another for advice without fear of retribution or mockery,” according to the forum’s list of rules.

These rules emphasize civility, kindness and appropriate behavior as well as focusing on local issues and keeping topics relevant to the forum. The members of the forum typically abide by these rules, mostly posting about charities, giving recommendations to each other and using the forum as a virtual lost and found.

However, alongside these innocuous posts are arguments, often with dozens of comments and targeted complaints about others, despite the forum’s rule of “Raise concerns, but don’t complain.” 

“There’s a lot of crazy things that happen,” senior Anna Carine said. “[There’s] a lot of accusing people’s kids of driving too fast, like I know [people on the forum were calling a student’s] car… ‘a sketchy car going too fast’’. 

Some members of the forum look at these posts in a different light. 

In 2020, UAHS alumnus David Baghat began recording satirical readings of discussion forum posts and uploading the videos to YouTube. 

“I think that everyone needs to sometimes recognize the things that they say and also to laugh at your own kind of ridiculousness,” Baghat said. “[The videos are] not meant to be mean-spirited, but, yes, I would say that growing up in Upper Arlington, I do recognize some of the absurd posts because I knew people like that and parents like that when I was going to school [in UA].”

Baghat said that the lack of face-to-face communication contributes to the arguments on the forum.

“[S]ocial media has made it feel like people are invincible. They can hide behind a computer; they can hide behind a keyboard,” he said. “I think you also have to understand [that] what you post on social media is free rein for anyone else [to see].”

Hot Button Discussions 

While the forum’s rules allow discussion about local political issues, members are told to “be considerate in your comments [and a]void sarcasm, rants, name calling, mocking, or belittling.” 

The list of rules addresses how to handle political discussion: “An example of an unacceptable issue: ‘Candidate X in the presidential election is great and everyone should support this candidate.’” 

 Despite these restrictions on what political topics can be discussed, there are often targeted posts about candidates.

“I know they spread a lot of rumors about candidates and stuff on [the forum], or just like people in general,” Carine said. 

Baghat said that as a response to these political arguments, a separate group called the Upper Arlington Political Discussion Forum was formed.

“I think it’s why they’ve taken the political discussions and created the Upper Arlington Political Discussion Forum where the moderators kind of push people if they’re going to get into a political discussion. Unfortunately, we’re in a time right now when we’re making things like public health a political matter, and it shouldn’t be,” he said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the focus of many posts on the forum with topics such as masks, the school district’s handling of distance learning and the return to in-person learning being argued over.

“It wasn’t until COVID when things started getting nuts and people were going and posting things that I couldn’t imagine,” Baghat said. “Someone didn’t think ‘maybe I shouldn’t post this’.” 

Others also believe that COVID-19 altered the environment of the discussion forum. 

“Everyone was just accusing people of not being safe enough, pointing fingers [at each other]. It was definitely not helping,” Carine said.

In addition to discussions about political candidates and local COVID-19 issues, members of the forum often post their reactions to national events despite the forum’s requirement of focusing discussions on local issues.

On Aug. 25, 2020, a then 17-year-old named Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and wounded another in Kenosha, Wisconsin at a protest of the death of Jacob Blake, a Black man killed by a white police officer. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts on the afternoon of Nov. 19, 2021. By that evening, there were already several posts, some with more than 100 comments, reacting to the verdict.

“As a culture, we are over-armed and emotionally out of control,” one post read.

Looking in the Mirror 

Some believe the discussion forum bolsters Upper Arlington’s stereotypical reputation of a “bubble” that is unwelcoming and exclusive.

“If the [forum] is pretty discoverable from the outside, that could definitely reinforce this perception of a bubble to outsiders,” junior Katniss Weisberg said. “If a lot of people are seeing this and seeing people acting in this way, then presumably, they’re gonna think about Upper Arlington [as more of a ‘bubble’ and] in a more… conservative and negative light.”

Baghat said he believes people are supporting his satirical videos because they want to “bring to light” the behavior on the forum and work against that perception of UA.

“I think that people don’t want [the forum] to be what Upper Arlington is known for,” Baghat said. “For a long time [Upper] Arlington has had a very privileged name associated [with] it and… I think that’s why the videos took off. I think people were like ‘Oh no, this is what we don’t want [Upper] Arlington to be like.’”

“Divided the Community”

Along with possibly reinforcing the stereotype of UA’s “bubble”, some believe the discussion forum has caused divides within UA.

“I think it’s bad [for the community]. I think it’s good for the [members] to talk about stuff together, but it’s gotten way too extreme, like screaming at people’s kids on there. It’s just a bit extreme,” Carine said.

Others share her sentiment.

“I feel like it reflects poorly on the Upper Arlington community,” Weisberg said. 

Baghat said he believes that the discussion forum has both failed and succeeded in its original purpose of creating a digital UA community.

“It’s this idea of ‘we can be civil and we don’t have to name-call people and we don’t have to use extreme profanity.’ In theory, what [the forum] was set up for was to be able to have discussions about community,” he said. “I think that it has brought a sense of unity, that we have a right to disagree [about] things, but we have to be able to disagree in a civil manner, and that’s sometimes where I think the discussion forum has kind of divided the community a little more.”

Baghat said that he thinks the forum has also created echo chambers that further divide the community.

“I think [the forum] started to expose people’s true thoughts. I think it caused people to leave the discussion forum and form their own discussion forums, their alternative forums,” he said. “I think that steaming off and creating these other little groups… defeats the purpose of what the discussion forum is about, which is working together as a community.”