Back in the day, neighbors got to know each other the old-fashioned way. That’s right. They sent their kids over to spy on the new people and then report back with their findings.
I know. You thought I was going to say something about front porches and rocking chairs? That’s adorable.
I mean, sure, that does happen but that sort of spontaneous warmth is as rare as an Amish Kardashian. (“Taking photographs of myself? I’ve butter to churn and buckles to bake!”)
Mercifully, technology, which is one of the reasons we no longer leave our living rooms to mingle with “those people in the gray house who leave their icicle lights up all year” has come to the rescue.
With all these “neighborhood” sites online, we are told that we can “use technology to make our own neighborhood stronger and safer.” The Nextdoor site, one of many, brags that “amazing things can happen by just talking with people next door” and that “online chats can lead to clothesline chats.”
First of all, clotheslines? I mean, sure, I’ve got one but I also make a mean buckle so I believe you can tell I’m at least part Amish.
I was a little put off by Nextdoor’s labeling of its goals as a “manifesto.” That doesn’t seem like a neighborly word but rather something a lunatic might read out loud from his perch on an overturned lard bucket at city hall.
Wording aside, these web communities can be helpful (“I lost my kitty”) or pretty whiny (“The train whistle keeps me up at night which I can’t believe even though I moved into a house right beside the train tracks!”)
Because I’m a team player, if I can see that it will benefit ME in any way, I recently joined my own neighborhood online group. By and large, it has been useful for publicizing yard sales, finding a reliable tree-trimmer and so forth.
That said, there’s always going to be a few who abuse a perfectly good neighborly exchange and you know who you are.
“I’m selling the most amazing product that will help you lose all the weight you want to get rid of fast, easy and with ABSOLUTELY NO DIET!”
What are you? A hit man?
Others use the site because they don’t have the triscuits to confront someone in person. Instead they might type: “The beautification award would be mine if my neighbor would remove the rusty john boat from his driveway as it distracts from my hydrangeas…”
Another downside to these neighbor sites is that they can lead to unpleasant online arguments. I recently read a testy exchange that got political. Well. She started it.