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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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