Internet continues to change our relationship to neighbours

At the hackathon last week-end I discovered this new site: Nextdoor.

When the business mentor told us about it, she described it as this site that lets you “talk with your neighbors without actually talking to them”.

It sounds really sad, at first. Then you stop lying to yourself and realise that it would indeed be useful.

I’m obsessed with this idea that things are returning to local now, but in a different way than in the past, and I cannot yet pinpoint exactly how different. Mouvements for eating local are huge. Microbreweries have a surge of popularity. Festivals are gold mines because they are so popular. People look to belong to a community, we know that, but still. There’s enough reluctance to not talk to our neighbours.

Nextdoor or other similar sites tackle an inherent problem with social proximity: the social pressure and control.

It allows us to have a community based on spatial location, but remain anonymous and stringless. To share information without other people’s judgments and uncomfortable chitchats in the corridor.

Sounds great, but what do we lose? Can we really have all the perks and none of the disadvantages?

Also, should a multinational company be the broker of our residence information, or should it be the role of the local government? Who should have these data? Is it too late to be having this discussion?