Do you know who lives next door to you? Have you ever actually exchanged a word with them? If so, congratulations, you’re part of a growing American trend. Studies indicate that about one third of Americans say they have never interacted with their neighbors.
Compare that to the 1970s, when nearly 30 percent of Americans frequently spent time with their neighbors, and only 20 percent had no interactions with them.
Why the shift?
Sociologists say this may be because it’s now so much easier to stay in touch with the people we care about who don’t live nearby. In other words, Facebook, Skipe and the internet are sucking up all of our social energy. We are probably not doing this intentionally, it is just a byproduct of the age in which we live.
But, with all this said, experts tell us there are benefits to taking a few steps down the block. A 2011 study by Eileen E.S. Bjornstrom at the University of Missouri, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, found that people who said they knew and trusted their neighbors were also more likely to report higher rates of health and well-being than those who said they did not know or trust their neighbors.
And still other studies have shown how making time for a little small talk with people you don’t know ultimately makes your day more enjoyable — even if you don’t expect it to, and even if it’s a little awkward.
For this reason, Sept. 28 has been designated National Good Neighbor Day. That was Monday, and although it has passed, there are still plenty of opportunities to just say hi.