Q&A: Mount Pleasant resident discusses creating 'Townie Talk' Facebook page
Ronnie Torres, creator of the famous local "Townie Talk" Facebook page, created a place for Mount Pleasant residents to share their favorite memories about living in Mid-Michigan.
The Townie Talk Facebook page is a closed group with more than 11,000 members. In the description section, Torres explained that this was a place to reminisce over fond Mount Pleasant memories and events.
Torres has lived in Mount Pleasant for his entire life. He sat down with Central Michigan Life to discuss why he decided to start the page and what it’s like running it.
What inspired you to create the page?
Eight years ago at a funeral, one of my friends said “Hey, we better have a party before all us townies are gone,” and that stuck in the back of my mind. I was a DJ at the casino at the time. I told him that I had the equipment and music. I told him if he picked a time and a place then we can have a party for us old townies and I’ll DJ for free. That’s how it started as a one night party. The next day I came home and I said I’m going to create a page for people who couldn’t make it or the people that did make it and want to share stories.
Did you anticipate the page becoming as big as it is?
Not at all. When we hit 500 people we thought "Man, this is cool." Then we hit the 5,000 mark it was just like "oOh my god." Now there’s well up to 12,000 people on there.
What is the most difficult part of running the page?
People post things like "Where can I get my dogs toenails trimmed?” or “Where can I find a job?” — that’s not for that page. I basically let it go for a while because I’m not going to constantly police a page with that many people, but about once every two weeks I get messages saying it’s getting out of hand. I just wait about every couple of weeks and see what the complaints are and delete things when necessary. I don’t delete them from the page I just delete their post.
What do you think contributed to the page expanding a fast as it did?
The party got bigger every year, so that contributed to it a lot. I noticed a lot of members were added by other people. I think it really grew when people started seeing old photos of downtown in the 1920s and 1930s and started adding their grandparents and things like that.
What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed from when you first started the page to now?
The biggest change is people posting things that have nothing to do with the page. At first there was just 50 to 100 people. They knew what the page was and why it was started. It was always things like “remember our little league team” or “remember the pool” or “here’s my kids nowadays.” Then it got bigger and bigger and now you’ll see ads saying stuff like “adopt a pet” and it’s just not the page for that.
Have conversations on the page gotten more unfriendly as more people join?
Yes. I noticed a lot of the negative posts are from people who are 21 and 22-years-old that don’t live in town or a college student who doesn’t get it. They’ll just start a war on there over something miniscule. There's been a lot of immature language on there as of late. In the beginning, it was great. But now, I go on there wondering how many complaints am I going to get today. Sometimes there’s just distasteful comments that don’t need to be there. If you disagree with something that’s on the page there’s no need to be distasteful. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but the page is still mostly positive.
Did you ever want the page to get this big?
Not really. I think it’s great if it’s this big and everyone can agree on what the page is for. I’d be satisfied if there’s only 25 people on there, but to see that my friends are adding their cousins and grandparents that moved away, that’s the cool part of it.