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Do your neighbors scare you?

One measurement of "social capital" is whether or not one has good neighbors who can lend a helping hand or watch one's place when one's away. Robert Putnam, in his 20-year-old book "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community", shows how dramatically "social capital" has declined in the second half of the 20th century. While people had high hopes that social networking was going to bring back a sense of connection with others, recent years has seen polarization rip apart any sense of social cohesion. The protests and social unrest this year have added to a sense that neighbors may have violently conflicting views of the world.

How are you feeling about your neighbors? Do you have similar political views? Have you made an effort to build up more "social capital" recently?

My neighbors...

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Admin 8 Sep 21
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I live in a mostly rural are in Arkansas outside of a small city. i do have several neighbors close by. I know and get along well with all of them. i am closer to some than others of course. i wear my politics on my sleeve. I am conservative and have a Trump flag flying below my American flag on my flag pole. My neighbor across from me has a sticker in the back window of her car that says "dump Trump". We wave and chat at least once a week although never about politics. My other close by neighbors are conservative and we all get along and can count on one another. I think social media platforms like facebook and twitter allow many people to be brave cowards. They say things to people they wouldn't say in person and in many cases they are family members and it drives wedges.


We live in a low density community in a rural area. Everyone has met each other, and even when we're different politically, we help each other, often without needing to be asked.


I like and trust all of my neighbors. Our farms are far enough apart so that we don't get on each others nerves. We respect each others opinions, both social and political even if we don't always agree.
Aside from farming, each of us has unique skills that we use whenever one of us needs help. We rarely deal with outsiders and view any stranger that comes around with a great deal of suspicion.
The recent riots, social unrest and the Chinese plague have only caused us to prepare ourselves for any big city issues that might try to come our way.
I'm sure that most of rural America is in the same situation as we.


I live on a pretty quiet street in a mid-sized mid-western American city with good neighbors who often help each other out and are always friendly toward one another. We have lived here for about 25 years, many of my neighbors have been here for almost that long, and few were living here even before we moved in, so we have had time to get to know others. I suspect our situation is an anomaly these days, however.


I'm pretty sure that a huge contributing factor to alienation between nearby neighbors is central heating and air conditioning...nobody spends any significant time outdoors - they don't sit on their front porches of an evening and wave at and say hello anymore.

People go from the house to the car to the store or wherever and they come back pull into the garage close the door and never speak or wave at a neighbor.
Between technological advances of HVAC, digital entertainment, digital communication devices like computers...the general population has become more or less fearful of personal contact with one another.
As a boy I knew the names of every family and family member in every house for entire block...and some a few blocks away - and they knew me and they knew my parents...and the adults generally kept an eye on all kids in the neighborhood - they knew your name and they knew which house was yours and they would no hesitate to let you know that they expected you to behave yourself - don't go throwing rocks and tearing through their yards and well - just behave yourself or else! LOL
Was a wonderful time and place to grow up.

Today I'm pretty sure I'm the only one on my cul-de-sac who knows the name of our mail carrier - her name is Xiosxie - pronunced "Shoshie" - every holiday I leave her a little prize in my mailbox (its a small bottle of Rum or Vodka...and a little greeting card) and she LOVES me and I love her. It's interesting to note that Xiosie is the only person In my entire neighborhood who I consider a friend - she doesn't live here but I see her almost every day... Go figure.

iThink Level 9 Sep 21, 2020

My parents back home know all the neighbors down the street but they live in a rural area and are in their 80s. I'm on good terms with my neighbors but I'm careful to be selective when discussing political things as liberalism is consider normal. The concern is more about neighbors who I don't know personally.

@Admin I think these days it's progressivism that's normal among the far-left crowd, and not liberalism per se. Hell, if you pay close attention to most of these Democrats when they talk hardly any of them identify as liberal anymore, nope, it's all about that progressivism. Me thinks the real liberals are on the political right nowadays (not far right though).

"I'm pretty sure that a huge contributing factor to alienation between nearby neighbors is central heating and air conditioning...nobody spends any significant time outdoors - they don't sit on their front porches of an evening and wave at and say hello anymore."

I think this is a profound observation in several ways.

@Augur2748 well, thank you 🙂


I don't fear my neighbors. The fellow to the South I do not like, and would not trust him to take care of a houseplant if I went on vacation. I have had reason to warn him off my property, and even had to shoot one of his dogs. The neighbors to the North I do not know. They have not lived there long and we simply have not had reason to interact, but they seem like nice enough folks.
Personally I am not an exceptionally social person to begin with so have not gone out of my way to get to know neighbors where ever I have lived, but I do my best to get along.

I guess shooting one of your neighbor's dogs wouldn't put you high on the neighborhood social capital list. 🙂

@Admin There was a bit of history there, a little over 2 years worth. This place we live has 3 acres to it. From day one of moving in here the Southern neighbor, hence forth the Crazy Neighbor, let his 3 dogs Sheparh mixes, run freely 24 hours a day, and we were constantly chasing them out of our yard. The male dog was especially aggressive.

In the two months prior to my shooting his dog the male dog had been killed because late on night it went into the yard of a neighbor across the road and attacked their dog. When the owner came out of the house it went to attack him but he was carrying a shotgun and put it down. A month before the two remaining dogs got into the yard of my neighbors on the other side and attacked their Airedale. She jumped the fence trying to get away from them and went down below the houses where she was caught and they almost killed her.

After that I decided no more nice and tolerant chasing his dogs off our property. So one day my wife took our two dogs, and my daughter's little dog out to visit with the Airdeale next door. The older Shepard of Crazy Neighbor came to the fence line so I stepped out with the .22. The dog came over on our property. It actually stopped and sat down. I was going to put a bullet right in front of it hoping that would chase it home, and maybe raise a fear about being on our property but the gun had jammed. By the time I got that cleared, and properly loaded the dog had started to charge at my wife and our dogs. No chance for any warning shot. Thankfully I hit it on the run. Sad thing was I only wounded, hitting the spine. Called the sheriff's office and they finally sent a deputy out with animal control. We heard the animal control vet yelling at Crazy Neighbor to let them take the dog in and put it down because it was going to die slow and painfully if they didn't. He refused choosing instead to let it lay outside for 3 nights howling until it died.

It still took several months before he started keeping his dogs kept up.

@KCSantiago I grew up on a farm so I understand you. Too bad either way.

@Admin It was sickening, but the good that came of it he now keeps his dogs up instead of letting them run loose all the time.


I live in the inner city in a densely populated neighborhood of mixed homes and apartments mostly built around 1900. There is a NGO not far away so they bring in a lot of short stay immigrants. It's racially and social economically mixed. The immigrants and minorities mostly keep to themselves. We went through a phase of gentrification 15 or so years ago when people from outside the state bought up the old houses, a lot of them were gay. Most of the new home owners were from California and brought their politics with them. Most of them moved on with the down turn in real estate in 2008. Right now most of the minorities rent and are black but 10 years ago they were mostly Hispanic, I get the impression they don't like each other. The houses are very close causing some unavoidably friction but I have managed to navigate that accept when my neighbor rented to a commune of "musicians". I was robbed three times until we finally got the commune evicted. Now we have an air bed and breakfast across the street, owner in California, that could be a potential party house problem but nothing serious so far.

Back before the gentrification phase we knew all the home owners for blocks. It was a pretty rough neighborhood and I think that drove people together. Now most people act like they do in the suburbs with very little contact with each other. The renters near me vary from building to building, some white millennials some buildings being predominantly minority. I don't see much socialization between or within any group.

I don't trust any group for various reasons. I don't like the California politics, the white middle class seems out of place and nervous, if experience holds the poor bring crime, the immigrants are just passing through, the wealthy larger homeowners snobbish and liberal, the surrounding neighborhoods a possible source of riots, and the older residents withdrawn. Fear may be the wrong term to apply to the people but I'm not optimistic about the neighborhood or the city in general.

wolfhnd Level 8 Sep 21, 2020

I have good neighbors. One is a bit of a pain, but I have no doubt he'd be there a pinch. We try to get together weekly. I live in the south, where decency still matters. I have no concerns about riots or civil unrest.


Nope. I live in a Hispanic neighborhood. They're good people. They mind their business, and we mind ours


the ones on either side of my house are great families. I get along well with both. Across the street is a family most of the street doesn't like.

If anyone is afraid, its people of me, I'm big and don't smile.


Well my white neighbors are cool and an Asian behind me is cool. But on one side there is a Mixed Race family and they are scary! No bull. They all live with grandma, don’t work,dropped outta school and sell drugs (cops busted the house several times).
But grandma (White ) died few months ago. The two nigger grandsons have been squatting until probate is final. Oh yea, we’ve called police for them shooting in the back yard

You were straddling the line of racism, but you had to jump over with your slur.


I call worthless black people that just like I call worthless white people hicks

But It’s a true story I assure u.

@SocialDarwin yep, "hicks" totally carries the same weight. Just the other day I was reading about the struggles of the hicks, how they were enslaved and deprived of rights and viciously murdered for being hicks. The fact that we don't have a hicks history month is an outrage.


Our cul-de-sac is like a tribe. We stand united.


I don’t discuss politics with my neighbors because that often result in unintended consequences. I keep my mouth shut and that’s it. If a neighbour expresses a point that I agree on, I will agree and if I don’t agree, i just move one on to weather.
Preserving the status quo is important.

Rick-A Level 8 Sep 21, 2020

I have very little in common with most of my neighbors, whether their politics lean to the left or right. Glad I'll be moving in a year or so, thinking about moving to the country. Back in June a racial equality protest marched through my neighborhood, and I got to see firsthand how some of my neighbors felt about such, and it wasn't too promising.


A mix of friend and indifferent.


I live on a suburban cul-de-sac with 8 houses nicely spaced apart. There is no apparent will or intent to become acquainted with each other. I have lived here 7 years and I have been disappointed and a unhappy about that. I am oriented toward socializing and I have made several attempts to engage neighbors...none of them is the least bit interested. They all avoid eye contact - and they seem annoyed if they see me waving at them.
I do not fear them but I have to say my cul-de-sac is a decidedly unfriendly place.

iThink Level 9 Sep 21, 2020

Every single individual I personally know who came from/lives in a cul-de-sac were rather unpleasant and antisocial. Must be a CDS thing, though there are exceptions (you being an exception it appears) to that I'm sure.

@camerakid61 yes I have experience in apartment living - I think I would prefer living in a single or double wide trailer...but I haven't tried that so can't say. ha!

@camerakid61 I do live in an apartment, and will most likely be moving in about two years. I love the city, city boy at heart, but some of the city folk are real doozies...


By Social Capital you mean trust between individuals and groups. Crudely put the more homogeneous then the higher the trust. Race, culture and how transitive people are all come into play. Bottom line is its going downhill fast.


No immediate threats. Don’t really know any of them, but I smile and wave at everyone. Fortunately, I live in a neighborhood and not a hoodhood, so most of them smile and wave back😄


First, I applaud the Admins for a great question. This is an interesting topic.

Secondly, after years of living in dorms, apartments, and houses on small lots where my neighbor's bed was twenty feet from my own, I finally have a house where no one else sleeps within a mile of my bed each night. Right now, my "neighbors" are deer, pronghorn, birds, rabbits, and the occasional coyote. I spent too many years being cramped together with other people, and I need to have some space. I worked hard to reach this point, and I'm glad to be here.

A mile from my house is a town of about 9,000 people, and most of those people are fairly compatible with me on most political issues. Even then, we aren't always a good fit on other things, and I sometimes feel estranged.

I have two friends from my previous work who can check on my house when I'm away on a trip, but I do worry because we rarely talk any other time. I don't have anyone whom I can casually call to help with things. People are busy these days, and getting together to do stuff just doesn't happen as much for many of us.

I'm disabled. I can still take care of myself well enough. I don't need to be in a home. However, there is always a risk for anyone living alone of having a fall and dying. If that happened to me, there's a good chance that no one would find me for days. I took two falls last winter, and if I'd landed a bit differently, either could have been fatal. With the snow drifting we sometimes had, I could have been buried in a drift within a day. If I weren't around long enough, maybe they would have searched the place with cadaver dogs and found me. Otherwise, I might have spent weeks or months buried in a snow drift. When I think of that, I realize that I am very much disconnected from any community.

I think we as a society are becoming more disconnected because we don't have as much shared culture. In many ways, that's a positive thing. Many of us just have zero interest in the things that interest our neighbors. In the old days, I'm sure many people pretended an interest just to be part of the group. Today, that adaptation feels less and less satisfying and even less and less honest. Having more options allows more of us to pursue what matters to us. The problem is that as our interests become more fractured, we have fewer chances to connect to other people.


One thing I learned in life that my father told me -familiarity breeds contempt-


Neither friends or foes. The one on the right is an awkward bugger. Not a foe but not a good neighbour either. The ones on theft are not bad neighbours but they they are not friends who we socialse with.


I have on neighbor I can count on. He was a guard at a federal prison and is fairly like minded. The rest, don't trust them as far as i could throw them!


Before smart phones, video games and the internet and Anti social media people had relationships.
People didn’t talk about religion or politics. The majority we moderate and voted for the person not the party.
Parties have become so extreme and media so biased, we need to get rid of both

David42 Level 7 Sep 22, 2020

Of course there are those Progressives (even here) that deny that. I have mentioned it before.
But... Denial is strong in that one.

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