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As we all grow more used to living our lives online, the impetus to talk to real people in real life has changed in some ways.
Neighbour Day challenges us think about this, and asks Do you know your neighbour?
In larger cities this trend to fear interaction is more common - people work hard to avoid eye contact so that there is no need to speak, or even acknowledge that another person exists.
Smaller city populations still retain the art of conversation, and stopping to speak with a stranger does not engender mistrust or fear. When I visited Dublin, pausing in the street to read a map brought a stream of people to a stop as they asked if they could help me.
Facebook drives us relentlessly to acquire more "friends" online, although I struggle to understand why. Is a person a friend merely because they know one of your friends?
But we sometimes overlook the real people in our lives.
The family next door. The old lady across the road. The man down the street who brings ham bones every Christmas for your dogs. Maybe even your parents or siblings.
I'm really lucky to have a brilliant set of neighbours. We share home grown produce together, chat about how our gardens are going, and even compare outputs on our solar panels.
When the neighbour across the road hadn't seen me for a few days, he popped over to see if I was OK.
Does High Density Living Make Us More Neighbourly?
How about you? Is your home your castle?
Do you know your neighbour? Have you waved to them recently? Spoken to them ever?
During heat waves and other weather extremes, check that your neighbours are OK. The elderly can forget to hydrate with fluids in summer, and often fear the cost of using power or gas is something they can't afford.
Do you smile at them when you see them? Even if you're not currently on good terms with them, a simple smile can be enough to avoid a blow-up in the future.
Try it, you may be pleasantly surprised!
The last Sunday in March is Australia's Neighbour Day. See the website for more detailed information, or look at the Facebook page for lots of info and great stories about the benefits of being neighbourly.
It may change your life for the better. Or someone else's.
This is lovely, but there's palpable irony in 'join our Facebook page to learn more about...' As a migrant to Australia, I can say that this is part of the Australian culture. Insular, avoidant, rude, self-absorbed, self-involved. I'd like to think it's possible to change that, but after 12 years here, I have sincere doubts. I know my neighbours, we're all migrants. Most of us feel similarly isolated and othered.
Very valid and thought-provoking words Dave. Yes, I know my immediate neighbours and we too support each other eg. when one goes on holiday - feeding their cats; watering the garden; collecting the mail or just stopping long enough to say "G'day" and show we care!