Here's a question for you: Do you know who's living next door to you? Like, actually know them? Not trying to freak you out or anything; I'm just genuinely curious. But if you answered "No" to that one, you're definitely not alone. In fact, according to a new study by General Social Survey, one-third of Americas haven't interacted with their neighbors at all — not even once.
Growing up in a weirdly small town in Ohio, this fact is honestly a little surprising to me. I mean, when I grew up, even if you didn't like your neighbors, you still talked to them. That's how you knew you didn't like them. But apparently, that is a very 1970s-era concept, during which time 30 percent of Americans reported socializing with their neighbors at least twice a week. Now, according to data recently published in a City Observatory report, that number is barely at 20 percent.
Technology is for sure at play here. With the modern ability to stay in constant touch with friends from all over the world, people are increasingly uninterested in the humans next door. I get that. But aside from being kind of sad to avoid people living less than 50 feet away from you, there are also some other reasons to start being friendly. For one, there are health benefits to socializing with your neighbors — including lower levels of stress and higher overall levels of happiness.
So, as an expert neighbor-lover myself, I've put together some key tips for all of you long-distance friend-havers out there. Trust me on this one, guys. These are fail-proof.
1. Throw A Really Loud Party And Invite Them Over For A Drink
And then ask them to please, please not call the cops. Solidarity, guys.
2. Watch Them With A Telescope And Learn All Their Secrets
OMG, you guys will have so many fun inside jokes! (Just kidding — don't actually do this. We do not live in Rear Window.)
3. But First, Borrow Their Pet For A Few Days
Asking for permission would make it weird, to be honest. If Fluffy loves you, they'll love you! It's all about making connections. (No, seriously, do ask for permission. No pet-napping, please.
4. Or Show Off With An Awesome New House Renovation That Will Take A Lot Of Time To Complete And Make A Lot Of Noise And Ultimately Cast A Literal Shadow Over Their Garden
They'll come running right on over because you are so cool and impressive. But also because now their garden is un-usable and they will want to admire yours, instead. (In reality: BIG NO.)
5. If All Else Fails, Plan An Elaborate Prank
One time, our neighbors threw a very realistic rubber snake into our pool and it scared six-year-old me so badly I didn't go swimming for the rest of the summer. Laughter is the best medicine, after all.
On second thought... maybe don't use most of these tips. But do throw a party if you like shindigs; who could say no to a cheese plate?