Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

November 1, 2018

Won’t you be my neighbor?
By Karla Brandenburg

In this day and age of “people don’t leave their houses,” social media has stepped in to fill the gap once again. Most neighborhoods have their own Facebook page to keep in touch. As with any Facebook page, that can be a mixed blessing.

I have a very walkable neighborhood, and there are a handful of us that can be found at any given time hoofing it around the many twisty, turny how-do-I-find-my-way-from-here streets. Along the way, I stop and chat (and no, I’m not by nature a very outgoing sort, but these are my neighbors, doncha know), and I wave to the folks sitting on their porches. I know some better than others, and it’s always fun to catch up with the parents of kids my kids went to school with.

Not everyone can get out of the house, and not every will get out of the house, but those folks can catch up on neighborhood news via the Facebook page. Things like “is there an alligator in the retention pond?” We live in Illinois, so probably not, although it is possible. On one of my walks, I saw animal control flying a drone over the pond to check on that report. (status undetermined.)

The neighborhood page tells you everything from “keep your dogs in, coyotes are out tonight,” to “make sure you clean up after your dog” (and the ensuing argument that one of the complainers is also one of the offenders). Garage (rummage) sales, crime reports, have you seen the snow plow, have you seen the mailman today, etc. The page is a good place to keep up not only on the neighborhood but other civic matters.

While there are some days I shake my head over someone complaining over something trivial, I’m grateful to have the community for more “newsworthy” items. One of our Grumpy Gus neighbors quit the page after he felt he was being picked on and invited the rest of the neighbors to a different platform. As far as I can tell, most of us are still there.

Is Facebook the best place to be a neighbor? Probably not, but in an age with less face to face human contact, it is useful, and I’ve met more of my neighbors as a result.

Do you know your neighbors? Do you still knock on the next-door-neighbor’s door to borrow a cup of sugar? Or is your relationship more virtual?

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Posted in Let's Talk, with Karla Brandenburg, zed: Former Authors • Tags: , , |  12 Comments


12 thoughts on “Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

  1. Our little neighborhood has a community page and I agree, it can be fun to watch what people post. A lot of great wildlife pictures, complaints about vehicles going too fast, people needing help, asking for recommendations for contractors, restaurants, etc.

    I think a few of them rely on it TOO heavily, though, and can’t seem to understand that there are other places to report things like water outages or internet outages, because those companies don’t really look at our community FB page! Not to mention, without internet, it’s kind of tough to get to Facebook.
    My husband also follows the page of our larger neighbor city and constantly tells me what stupid things people down there are complaining about (and their grammar and spelling).

    1. Terry, we get all our event news from Facebook now. The print newspapers just don’t seem that interested in little neighborhood activities.

  2. We’ve recently moved to an apartment complex in downtown St. Petersburg, FL. We’re pleased by the leasing office manager’s efforts to bring residents together socially. As the lobby of our building is a Morean Art Gallery, we have a opening exhibit every few months. There’s also a Last Wednesday of the Month Pizza Party and we had an absolutely rockin’ Halloween Party. Not a traditional neighborhood setting, but we keep up with what’s going on by a daily e-mail where everyone can post about events and, of course, complaints. As a virtual connection to others in the building — it works.

    1. I like the social aspects! Our group does also advertise a card group that meets regularly, and they’ve advertised a “walking club.” Not sure, in this age of not leaving one’s house, how they do. I did reach out for the one, but I think good intentions feel by the wayside.

  3. I always find it funny when someone says “anyone else having
    internet issues this morning?” My first thought is “then how are you posting?” (because I’m one of those dinosaurs who doesn’t use my phone for that sort of thing, which is obviously the answer to my question.)

  4. Neighbors. Having a neighbor today feels different than it did 50 years ago when we were all in and out of each other’s houses, before air conditioning kept people inside most of the summer. Back in the day, we were miles from a grocery store and often one car per family, so we did borrow cups of sugar etc from neighbors. Today if I need a cup of sugar, I hop in the car and go get it. However, I have very nice neighbors. They are always looking out for each other, and we have a neighborhood newsletter that comes out often, as well as social committee announcements for group events. And we have a weekly newspaper for our county and a daily that gets delivered from the next county. I love newspapers!

  5. We don’t know many of our neighbors. There’s been a lot of turnover and young families have moved in. We no longer have kids at home looking for playmates. What I find most useful is the Next Door neighbor app. We can ask for and offer recommendations for service people or find out what’s going on in the neighborhood.

  6. We live out in the boonies and so are mostly on a waving basis with our neighbors, though we do chat regularly with the folks on either side of, and behind us. I do religiously (as is multiple times per day) check the local Facebook page. There’s a lot of griping on there, but also important updates and some lovely acts of kindness. It’s amazing how you can be a community by virtue of posting together. 🙂

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