Months ago, as we watched our kids ride bikes, scooters, and tricycles back and forth in front of our houses, my next-door neighbor told me about a social networking site called i-Neighbors. I filed it away in my disorderly mental index of things I may someday investigate. I finally remembered to look at it recently, and I can’t believe it took me so long.
i-Neighbors calls itself the place “where neighbors meet, plan, and stay informed.” It’s basically just a message board, but it’s also so much more. Studies indicate that in the last few decades, Americans are becoming more isolated from each other. We work longer hours, spend more time inside in front of screens, walk less, and drive more.
Solitude has its place. I wouldn’t get much writing done without it. But as Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz write in The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century, “There are times in all our lives when we each need a little loneliness. … It comes down to a question of balance. As a country, we have lost our balance”
If you’re feeling in need of more human connections, i-Neighbors is a great place to start. I was surprised to find a lively and active group of people posting daily in my neighborhood. Here are a few things they’ve been discussing in the last few weeks:
- A family is inviting others to join a raw milk co-op.
- A baker’s offering to share her sourdough starter.
- Someone’s hosting a monthly craft night.
- A backyard farmer announced a neighborhood pumpkin patch.
- Another local farmer is advertising a CSA pickup spot in the neighborhood.
- A couple of families are inviting children to take part in a lantern parade.
Logging hours online on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can feel, well, not exactly social. But i-Neighbors is a great way to use the Internet to make real-live human connections and get to know the people you share an apartment building or sidewalk with.