Won’t You Be My Neighbor

June 26, 2013

WilsonWhen I grew up, neighbors connected face-to-face over coffee in the kitchen or maybe a drink out on the porch. My parents would visit about a neighborhood gathering, someone’s new fence or whisper about the the unkempt lawn on the corner.

Keeping the tradition alive, my husband and I had similar experiences after we moved into our new house in 2006 — that is until Next Door Neighbor came knocking.

Our neighborhood created a group on the micro social media site, which promises to connect people with neighbors living in their vicinity. To join, typically you’re alerted by a postcard, invited by another neighbor or learn of it through word-of-mouth.

When I first logged on, I was eager to see who else had joined. Old, young, those with and without kids… it was a regular hodgepodge of people in my little part of the world, and it quickly became all too helpful. It helped me remember families’ last names, get a sitter and find recommendations for a new lawn service. Even better, there’s a neighborhood watch section, a lost and found and much more. I absolutely loved it.

But I should have known all good things must come to an end: Enter The Complainer.

It all started when a couple of the “whippersnappers” in the neighborhood starting playing ding-dong ditch. I for one appreciate that kind of humor. It’s like toilet papering or forking someone’s yard — clean, harmless fun.

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However, one younger gal on the block didn’t find the teen ritual amusing and began to make a stink on our NextDoor Neighbor page. Only two families in the area have kids, so instantly they became the likely culprits. But instead of giving someone a call or stopping by to discuss the issues, she took the passive aggressive approach, ranting and raving about it online. And that’s only the beginning. It’s now become a breeding ground for whiners. Several others have begun chiming in with issues that concern only one or two individuals. And that’s just plain un-neighborly.

I’ve since stopped checking my page. I found I enjoy my neighbors more if I tune out the online annoyances and chat with them on the front lawn or share a beer with them in my backyard. I love technology as much as the next person, but when it starts to compromise interpersonal relationships and conversations, I’ve found that’s where I draw the line.