Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

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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