In this age of instant messaging, virtual assistants, and social media, neighborly greetings are often reduced to a simple hello. In some areas, neighbors prefer to avert their eyes and look down at their phones instead of acknowledging each other’s presence. However, there are many good reasons to put forth the effort required to get to know your neighbors.
Benefits of Getting to Know Your Neighbors
There are many reasons you should make an effort to get to know your neighbors. Some are philosophical, and some are more practical.
- Being friendly with your neighbors restores a sense of community. Knocking on the neighbor’s door when you need a cup of sugar can make you feel more secure where you live. When you know who your neighbors are, and they know you, it helps keep loneliness at bay.
- Having a wide variety of acquaintances helps you keep an open mind. It counteracts the “filter bubble” phenomenon, which describes how people tend to interact only with people who are just like them. Being able to get along with people who have different ideas and habits than you do is a huge plus.
- Knowing your neighbors well helps promote safety in the neighborhood. It makes it more likely that elderly ones in the area will get the help they need. Also, if someone is casing the neighborhood, you’re likely to know it if you know who lives on your street and who doesn’t. Burglars may be less likely to target a place where people seem to know each other and where residents make eye contact with them.
Next Steps for Getting to Know Your Neighbors
Because most people have become far removed from their neighbors, it may be difficult for you to ease into relationships with people in your community. Depending on your personality, you may want to take it slow, or you may want to dive right in! Here are some suggestions for easing your way into the collective consciousness of the neighborhood.
- Start with a simple greeting. Nothing breaks the ice like a genuine smile and a warm “hello.”
- Show interest (but not too much interest) in your neighbors. Introduce yourself. If they seem standoffish or suspicious, don’t ask for anything, but continue to be friendly. They may warm up eventually.
- Offer a gift when you move into a new neighborhood or when someone new moves into yours. This could be something like homemade cookies or a potted plant. Offer to help others in small ways.
- When the mail is misdelivered, don’t just drop it off at the right house and be on your way. Knock at the door and say a quick hello while you explain why you’re there.
- Once your neighborhood has developed a more friendly vibe, you can start organizing activities. Try a summer block party or a neighborhood barbecue. Of course, if crime prevention is your main concern, you could always start up an old school neighborhood watch.
No matter where you live, getting to know people in your community has its benefits. Fighting off the isolation that often comes with modern living is well worth the effort. What are you waiting for? Go forth and mingle!