When did talking to our neighbours become a social faux pas?

Recently we launched the Good Neighbour App. It is an anti-social-media social app that uses a little bit of technology to get people to talk to each other face-to-face. It’s been a fascinating social experiment.

When we explain that you can’t connect with people online with the Good Neighbour App, they are confused. How can you have a social app that doesn’t connect with people on line. When we show them that you connect with people face-to-face and that the messaging also connects people face-to-face, their instant reaction is “I love it” I love that it gets people talking to each other and it is so simple to use without any unwanted noise of scam, complainers or advertising. They love it and download it.

But then something really interesting happens.

To use the app, they have to talk to someone and share their app on their phone face-to-face. And their reaction is that is awkward. They say “I don’t feel comfortable going over to my neighbour and talking to them. I am ‘afraid’ of what they might say and it seems like an ‘intrusion’ on their space to talk with them.

Yet our experience is the neighbours feel the same way they do. They want to be more connected but feel it is an intrusion to talk to their neighbour.

A couple of weeks ago, I put out a poll on Linked In and asked “How well do I know my neighbour”

25% said they ‘talk’ with the their neighbours. The rest said they ‘wave’ at their neighbours or ’ignore’ their neighbours.

When did it become inappropriate to talk with our neighbours? When did it become inappropriate to know their names or heaven help us, ask them for a little help.?

At happy Community Project, we see this behavior as unhealthy and unsafe. We see that neighbours we socialize with as an important part of our wellbeing. How do we break the taboo of talking to neighbours? How does it get to be OK again? I’d love your thoughts.

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