In this age of FaceTime, Skype and the Internet, where we can literally create a community anywhere, do neighbourhoods still matter?
Do you know who your neighbours are? Probably you don’t. Modern urban life liberates us from the neighbourhood. Our social and professional ties span the city, span the globe. Next door is another planet. Friendly contacts between neighbours are measurably more feeble now than a generation ago.
Whether in the city or the suburbs, you could be forgiven for thinking we are growing more distant from our neighbours. There are exceptions, of course. I’ve found in every community at least some neighbourhoods where people talk regularly and watch out for each other, but these have most certainly been are the exception. Our big gardens and long commutes certainly put a distance between us and the people who live next door.
But why is it that we feel this way? How have we managed to shift so far from what was normal a mere generation ago? It’s true that the rise in two-career couples means that fewer people are home during the day. We spend more time online than ever before. At one time, putting up a fence in the garden was seen as somewhat of a hostile act, but today homes come with fences already built. Every neighbourhood is of course very different, and different parts of the country are notoriously friendlier than others. It’s understandable that often our busy lives leave us with little energy to reach out to others. Ringing the bell and introducing yourself to an elderly person living alone or inviting a few people on your street over for barbeque is a good place to start.
We’ve taken the survey, I hope you do too because I’m really curious to see the results. What’s your relationship like with the people who live on your street? Has it changed over the last decade? See how well you fare in this survey from Rattan Direct.