Were You Friends With Your Neighbors Decades Ago? The Practice Is Dying Down

actually being friends with your neighbors
Photo Credit: Wallpaperflare

Instead of chatting over the phone, neighbors talked over their fences. Rather than sending text messages, they would send homemade goods. Years ago, neighbors became friends. Today, it sometimes feels like the people living right next door are strangers. It has left people thinking that all senses of “community” are dwindling.

Did you know and befriend your neighbors? It’s certainly not always possible, even when at least one or both parties want to. Not everyone is going to be the best of friends. But for those of us who at least grew up with a sense of community within their actual community, instead of being strangers in a familiar land, that might actually have been the best way to do it. In this article, we explore what happened to knowing and loving thy neighbor, and why it’s actually very important to – when possible.


A disconnected world of connection

Instead of connecting with a phone, people used to step outside and bond with their neighbors
Instead of connecting with a phone, people used to step outside and bond with their neighbors / Flickr

Technology provides a lot of benefits. Science undoubtedly made a lot of tasks wonderfully easy and convenient. However, technology also removed some more personal social practices. For example, on the convenient side, people don’t need to pay to use a payphone. On the other hand, people talk more and more on their phone than face-to-face.

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And so we arrive at the downside of technology. Cities don’t readily embrace stickball as a way to build skills. And neighbors don’t quite know each other as well as they used to. Certainly, at least some of this can be attributed to compatibility or lack thereof. But observe the relationships between Americans and their neighbors as they move through the major stages of life. Communication and connection happen by connecting wires and plugging in. Yes, this eases relationships across distances, but it also cuts off valuable interactions that happen in adjacent yards. Actually, maintaining such friendships with neighbors is beneficial and worth pursuing in this digital age…

The benefits of neighbors knowing one another

Disconnect with neighbors means missing out on important benefits
Disconnect with neighbors means missing out on important benefits / Flickr

When asked on Facebook, many nostalgic commenters all readily recalled their experiences growing up actually knowing their neighbors. The ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s marked a golden age of hanging out, sharing information and responsibilities, and developing social skills. One user sums it up well: “YES Neighbors actually went out of their way to make friends With other neighbors. Although those were the days when Wives/Mothers didn’t work – they were housewives. Stayed home & took care of the FAMILY. I Must Add: It was a Million times BETTER for the CHILDREN & FAMILY as a Whole. I wish it was still like that.”

That certainly came with a few drawbacks. One user pointed out, “Everyone knew who I was and I really couldn’t go anywhere without someone knowing me. It was worse than a neighborhood watch. Early 60’s.” So, everyone’s business was, in fact, everyone’s business. But that meant people could look out for one another. That is one of the benefits this lifestyle offered, as presented by Lincoln Military Housing. The list outlines the important benefits of building a relationship with your neighbors. It offers the opportunity to divide and conquer tasks together, creates a shoulder to lean on, becoming socially well-rounded, and provides an extra pair of eyes looking out for you. Did you have this kind of relationship with your neighbors?

What do you think?

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