Next Door? Mind Your Own Business!
‘UK neighbourhoods are dying!’ cried this morning’s headline. Research in a new report commissioned by the social network Nextdoor, which aims to link people living in the same area, found that ’60 per cent of UK residents would not feel able to borrow a cup of sugar from their neighbours’.
First, why would anyone borrow sugar at all? Nobody ever runs out of sugar. We’ve had a 2lb bag of the stuff in the cupboard since the old king died and the only time it ever gets used is when the Ukrainian patio builders come to regrout our terrace.
Second, if you’re going to borrow it, leave it in the bag otherwise you’ll have to replace the sugar AND remember to return the cup. Isn’t it time we updated this old saying by perhaps substituting something more useful and modern like ‘phone charger’, ‘e-shisha pen’ or ‘champagne flutes’?
Of course the NextDoor social network is going to find that result. They’re being paid to artificially link everyone together. The beauty of living in London is being able to be interviewed by the police after the man next door turned out to be a serial killer and saying he seemed like a nice bloke who never said much. Besides, have you ever been on Next Door? I joined it for a while, then quickly came off. It’s entirely populated by stupid mad people. Two panicked requests from neighbours on Next Door made me leave;
‘The light in my refrigerator has gone out – does anyone have the number of a fridge repair company?’ Why stop there? Throw the whole fridge away and buy a new one.
‘Help! An emergency has arisen. We’re having a raclette party and our raclette set just broke – does anyone have one we can borrow?’ How do you break a raclette set, for Heaven’s sake?
It’s worth looking up the original article in the Independent and checking out the comments, because most commenters don’t even realise this is a lame piece of clickbait PR produced by NextDoor. One comment runs; ‘Why bother with the neighbours when half of them cannot speak English?’ He goes on to quote ‘EM Foster’ (No relation to the author of ‘Howard’s End’, I assume. Perhaps he wrote ‘Howard’s Way’). The rest off the comments are rabid rants from (presumably) deranged and happily secluded Olds who blame social breakdown on people who want to remain in the EU – don’t even try to follow that one through.
I write this while I’m watering my neighbours’ plants. They’re Swiss-French. I’m also holding the cleaners’ keys for the flat upstairs. They’re Spanish-German. I’m holding keys for someone else; he’s Catalan. It’s Barcelona, so of course everyone knows everyone else’s business. Back in London, I not only know all my neighbours, I go on holiday with them, swap flats with them, take in their deliveries and have dinner with them. If we were any more connected we’d be having surrogate babies for each other.
It’s amazing how few people think of getting involved on any level with their neighbourhoods. I get discount in just about every local shop. Except chains. Actually, that’s not true because the Italian-Albanian guy in Pret sometimes gives me my coffee free.
Youngs, you can fix this. Show them how it’s done. You know how you go on holiday by buying a cheap ticket to Sri Lanka and talking to those pissed Australians at the bus stop and ending up working in a bar in Phuket? Apply that thinking here. Put down your walkie-phones and say hi. Not knowing whether someone has posted on your timeline in the last nanosecond won’t kill you. You thought the internet was going to be all about sharing and it’s not. Hanging with your homies is real sharing, and much more fun.