This Was A Banner Week For Lazy Viral Photos About Detroit

If someone had told me years ago while I was in J-School that in order to sustain a career in telling stories about my hometown, I'd have to copy and paste before-and-after photos of a few buildings, I'd have called you crazy. Oh, what a mistake I would have made back then.

A week after Silverdome-gate, Detroit is wrestling with two stark comparisons of the city's current state. One from Goobing Detroit, showing Google and Bing streetviews of the city's decline. The other from Hell Yeah Detroit, showing past and present development of the city's riverfront.

Both seem to be answers to each other. Goobing Detroit paints the post-apocalyptic side of Detroit; Hell Yeah Detroit says "wait a minute, there…" Hell Yeah Detroit shows the cheery, overly optimistic side; Goobing Detroit has the same response.

If you're wondering who's winning the viral war — the war in which one of these depictions of Detroit will go viral, Silverdome-style — it's Goobing Detroit. Already picked up by The Verge and a hit on Reddit, people just can't get enough of the ol' ruin porn.

It should be noted (without grouse or sour grapes, of course) that both Goobing Detroit and Hell Yeah Detroit have different agendas and both subsist on clearly biased actions of their creators. While HYD is a startup and, thus, will never rattle the hornet's nest to disrupt Detroit's startup culture and possibly piss away any potential funding that could come about from that, it's more interesting that Goobing Detroit's founder is an employee of LOVELAND Technologies, a company contracted by the city of Detroit in the fight against city's blight. Since LOVELAND is literally paid to help eradicate blight, of course a viral site that underscores just how bad blight can be could boost any of their future prospects. We shouldn't be questioning that at all!

But it's always the two extremes, isn't it? The happy, everything-is-just-dandy-in-Detroit images and the oh-my-God-this-place-is-Chernobyl images. You never see anything in between. And it doesn't help that one set of images is downtown and the rest aren't, thus pushing forth the narrative that downtown is the place to be (and be priced out of) and everywhere else is in the toilet. (For instance, did The Verge piece point out that the Goobing grabs were concentrated on a few northeast streets? Or did they basically just say "look at how Detroit is?" Take a guess.)

We've spent a lot of time (and by "we," I mean "I") trying to explain the complexities of Detroit and Metro Detroit to a misinformed national audience, and it doesn't help when situations like this happen. (And this isn't to say that we/I always get it right, either.) It's not a denial of blight; it's there. It's not a denial of revitalization; it's there. It's about being fair to those of us in the middle.

Photo via Tumblr