We use the internet to connect with others all over the world, but what about people right in our backyard? Technology tends to insulate us if we don’t take measures to counteract it, and we can become bad neighbors as a result. A few apps and tools can help you connect with the people you live by so you don’t miss out on important relationships.
Join a Neighborhood Social Network
You probably think you don’t need another social network, but one that helps you connect with real people in the real world might be worth an exception. Nextdoor operates as a private social network and helps you meet the people in your neighborhood. Whether you need to borrow a cup of sugar or find a new tennis partner, you can connect with people nearby.
If you’ve used Facebook—and you probably have—Nextdoor should seem familiar. It offers a similar interface to the giant social network most of us both love and hate, but with plenty of local advantages. Since joining, I’ve seen people alert each other about lost pets, find workout buddies, find a good housecleaner, borrow each other’s stuff, and solve common problems (e.g. coyotes). You just post a message to the neighborhood and see who replies. You can get notifications in your inbox or just check the site, much like any other social network.
Seek Out Hyper-Local Events
How to Use the Internet to Actually Meet People in Real Life
If you live in a populated area—especially a larger city—you probably have a few nearby attractions you can visit. I have a pinball arcade near me that opens in the dead of night, and I had no idea it existed for a year. You can meet a lot of cool people who live by you at these places, but you can’t do that if you don’t seek out nearby stuff. The easiest way? Break out your smartphone.
Load up Yelp or any other app that allows you to find things based on proximity and perform a search for anything within one mile. Make an effort to check out local restaurants, stores, and other attractions a couple of times a week. Whenever possible, interact with others. While you technically can engage in a conversation with another person at a restaurant, you should focus your efforts more on places where people share space. Try coffee shops, arcades, bars, farmer’s markets, and other community-friendly locations.
If you can’t find much through Yelp, try MeetUp or GrubWithUs to find specific events of interest in your specific area. These events exist so you can meet other people you don’t know. If you stick to your neighborhood, you’re more likely to run into a few people who don’t live too far off.
Start Analog, Go Digital
Sometimes you need to meet neighbors the old-fashioned way before you can interact with them online. When someone new moves in, stop by and welcome them. We don’t do this as much as we should nowadays. It helps to know your neighbors even a little bit because you can then go to them with issues. Perhaps they block you in the parking lot often. That’s an easy issue to resolve if you both know each other and like each other. Perhaps the building has a bug problem. Asking your neighbors to go to the landlord with you can help. If you have neighbors who don’t live in the same building, you can still benefit by asking them for guidance if you’re new. If you have a pest problem, they probably have had one before as well and know how best to handle it.
If going door-to-door doesn’t help much, you can always advertise with your Wi-Fi network. Change it to something like “I’m new in Unit 104, Say Hi!” or create a guest network to do the same. People will see it and perhaps they will come to you. Still, it’s generally much easier to just go knock on someone’s door.
However you go about it, you should connect with your neighborhood. The more connected we are to each other, the easier it is to solve problems and get help when needed. You might even make a few friends in the process. It takes very little effort, comes with some nice benefits, and thanks to the internet, you can get started online.