One day during the first week of college, all my floormates and I played some silly game called “Do You Know Your Neighbor?” I forget what exactly the game entailed, but it was silly (as only college games can be) and in all likelihood involved drinking. (Maybe that’s why I can’t remember anything about it?) Anyway, in college, it’s easy to get to know your neighbors when you’re all crammed in the same floor and have to share bathroom, kitchen, and laundry facilities.
Once you own a house, your neighbors become less accessible, especially if you live in the country and there’s lots of space between houses. People these days tend to have a “mind your own business” attitude regarding others and don’t like to interfere unless there is a clear need for it. I heard a State Farm commercial recently that said (I don’t know where this statistic is from or if it’s legit), “One out of three Americans don’t know their neighbor’s name.”
It seemed like neighbors made more of an effort to get to know each other 50 years ago. Because I wasn’t around 50 years ago, I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s just because nostalgia causes facts from the past to become distorted. In a way, technology serves to keep us isolated from our real-life neighbors as well. People come home from work and collapse in front of their computers or in front of the TV with a smartphone in their hand and forge tenuous connections with strangers across the nation rather than spend time chatting with Mr. Jones next door.
So… are you that one out of three Americans who does not know his neighbor’s name? (Or is that statistic something invented by State Farm’s PR staff?)