Friday, February 02, 2007

On Being Neighbourly

Once again professional Aussie blogger, Sam de Brito, has posted a rather thought provoking post: Neighbours: What Are We So Afraid Of?

The basic gist is that people tend to be afraid of being neighbourly these days because they feel showing the slightest bit of neighbourliness will result in some level of obligation to that particular neighbour-- a fear that that particular neighbour could/would misconstrue casual friendliness for an open invitation into your personal life. On the flipside human beings do have some level of need for companionship and balancing out that fear of obligation in other people's lives with the desire for companionship can be a tough tightrope to walk.

In commenting on de Brito's post, I posed the question, is the popularity of social networking sites such as or an extension of longing for companionship mixed with this fear of becoming "obligated" to the lives of others?

I mean if you think about it, these sites offer the best of both worlds, the companionship without the obligation... For those of you who use these social networking sites, I ask you (and answer honestly here), if something bad were to happen to you and you needed a friend, how apt would you be to go knocking on the door of someone you met via that site, someone you haven't yet met in person? Probably not likely at all. And therein lies the appeal. If you're not going to go knocking on their doors when you're in need, chances are they're not going to come a knockin' on your door when they're in need-- friendship/companionship without the obligation.

To extrapolate further on this, is this just a product of our culture? Have we become so self-absorbed-- getting lost in the music from our mp3 players or talking on the cell phone while walking down the street that this fear of obligation to be friends with other people is just an extension or symptom of our culture's growing self-absorption? Have we started to render ourselves so self-absorbed that the only friendships we consider forming are ones that will be predominantly one-sided... one sided in OUR favor?

Discuss amongst yourselves...


Janet said...

I find it really interesting that online neighborhoods continue to grow and flourish, while real life neighborhoods continue to seem like a dying breed. I thought it was just where I lived, but then I looked around.:( I guess there's still that need for human contact, though the computer somehow allows it to be a connection that is made at arm's length.

The Phoenix said...

Um, let me see if I can answer your questions: