“People just don’t know their neighbours any more.”
It’s a common complaint we hear all over Leeds, when talking about loneliness and social isolation. People feel that the cultural changes of the modern world have led to everyone staying in their own bubble, and not making connections in their local community the way they once did.
True or not, some social media platforms think they have the answer. Streetlife popped up in the UK in 2011 and by 2015 claimed to have 1 million users nationwide. It has just been acquired by Nextdoor, an American company with a similar idea.
“Like Facebook but for your neighbourhood” is probably the easiest way to describe it. Users verify their address and then get connected with people who live nearby, rather than friends they already know or people who share similar interests.
The conversation threads are full of posts asking for recommendations for tradespeople, notices about lost pets, and warnings about scams going on in the area. The platform can also be used to organise events like street parties, tenants’ meetings or neighbourhood forums.
Those who believe that internet culture is what is leading us to become alienated from the people physically around us may be skeptical about an internet-based solution to the problem. However, its designers hope that it will be a way to break the ice and bring people together in real life. Only time will tell.
What do you think?