Sesame Street Meets Facebook: How To Turn Your Neighbors Into Friends
I’m searching. I’ve been looking everywhere, trying new approaches, being open-minded, engaging with different opportunities, but I’m tired and the situation isn’t getting any better. What have I been looking for? Friends.
Three years ago, when I moved to Washington, D.C., I had friends. I reconnected with old classmates, sought out “new to the city” opportunities, enjoyed the thrill of being in a new place and meeting new people. Gradually, over the last year, I have attended farewell party after farewell party for people moving away for new opportunities, jobs, graduate school, or personal reasons. I have plenty of friends in different states and countries to visit, but my number of friends has drastically dwindled here in DC.
I’m not the only one. As a society, we are more "connected" than ever. We have smart devices and social networks that keep us connected with our family, friends, and colleagues all over the world. And yet, at the same time, we have become more alone. In fact, our society is lonelier than ever.
Regardless of the number of Facebook friends a person has, Americans report having only two close contacts. A survey of Gen X’ers found that only 18 percent were satisfied with their friendships. Combined with the fact that 32 percent of Millennials have moved in the past five years and 42 percent intend to move in the next five years, it's clear we're a population looking for people to connect with.
Neighborsations does just that. Recognizing the trends in personal relationships, Neighborsations was launched to help people make closer friends by connecting them with others in their neighborhood who have similar interests. Think about all the friends you keep in touch with all over the world. Now, imagine if you could find those same kinds of people in your neighborhood.
In fact, getting to know people in the neighborhood has an impact on urban and suburban environments. A Knight Foundation study found that regardless of the type of place someone lives, one of the top three reasons someone chooses a neighborhood is social offerings, including feeling that people in the community care about one another.
These communities have stronger local economies that are able to withstand economic fluctuations. Other recent studies have shown the health impacts of social interaction. Did you know that a lack of social interaction can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? Or that loneliness can actually alter your genetic makeup?
It’s easy to spend time on social media or to default to taking out your smartphone when you have a little spare time, but challenge yourself to put down your device. Take steps to connect to people offline: create the community you want for yourself in your neighborhood and start a Neighborsation to find your frieghbors.