I recently read an article about a new social networking site called Nextdoor.com that is proving very popular in America. The site aims to put its users in touch with people living in the same area. You register with your address then wait for your registration code to arrive in the post (to verify your address) then you’re away!
People use the site to swap information on everything from traffic disruption in their street to the best local dentist. This is all well and good but what’s wrong with actually meeting your neighbours, you know, in real life? Well I tried to meet my neighbours not so long ago and they weren’t having any of it!
I’d just moved into a new flat with my boyfriend and we decided to have a housewarming party. I put an invite through everyone’s letterbox on the floor. What a friendly, neighbourly thing to do! I’d love it if some good-willed stranger invited me to their party.
How many of my neighbours came? Zero.
Some children brought round a box of chocolates and a home made card signed to say sorry they couldn’t come . Was this intended as a subtle hint to keep the noise down, or am I being cynical?
Apart from that no one else responded and none of my new neighbours came round to warm our flat. Well, that’s not strictly true. I woke up on the Sunday morning after the party to someone hammering on the door. It was the lady from across the hall coming to complain that we were making lots of noise and she thought her son was going to wake up (so he didn’t actually wake up then?)
“Welcome to your new home”.
Apparently 3.5 million people in Britain have never seen their neighbours and from my personal experience, I’m not surprised!
But if my neighbours are going to ignore my party invite then I don’t think I’ll take to the internet and try and befriend them there. Nextdoor.com doesn’t really appeal to me. I take the tram to work every morning anyway and I’ve already got a good dentist, thanks.
I don’t want my neighbours to give me tips about crime and safety in the local area, I just thought it would be nice to share some drinks and meet some new people. You know, like when your parents moved into their first house and the neighbours saw them moving in and came over to say hello.
So I’ll leave Nextdoor.com and its pseudo-socialising in favour of tangible friendships and the hope that the next housewarming party I have feels a little warmer.