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For many, neighborhoods don’t exist anymore. Not like they used to anyway.
As a kid growing up in the ’80s and early ’90s I spent the majority of my days outside, playing stickball or basketball or riding bikes and skateboards in my cul-de-sac with the other kids on my block.
Things have changed.
Now, we largely live in online neighborhoods—in communities based on common interests that link us together.
The conversations that used to happen on “front porches” now happen in threads.
Younger generations hear the words neighborhood and community together and immediately think “that’s not the world I grew up in”.
There’s a good chance that my son won’t experience the old-school neighborhood-style childhood that I did. And there’s a chance that in some areas, nobody will ever again. For two main reasons: technology and culture shifts.
For example, if my son wants to play with his friends it takes planning. He doesn’t just run out the door, go to the neighbor kids' houses, and come back at dinner time as I did. It takes coordination—things are scheduled in advance. Schedules are complicated and busy. And all the parents work. Culturally, things are different for him than they were for me.
The same goes for adults. Pop in’s aren’t just rare, they’re perhaps the worst thing you can do to another person socially. Followed closely by an unannounced phone call that wasn’t at the very least preceded by a heads-up text.
Adults don’t just visit each other, they schedule coffee or lunch or drinks. And these adult playdates are so few and far between that when they do happen, we spend our limited time together running through high-level recaps of each other’s lives instead of talking deeply about things that actually matter.
(Think about this: When was the last time you were making something, realized you didn’t have a key ingredient, and asked a neighbor to borrow some? I’m willing to bet that you chose to drive to the store instead. Why? Because we don’t know our neighbors anymore. Not like that anyway. And it’d feel awkward.)
IRL connection takes logistics. Decades ago we didn’t need technology to connect. Today, we wouldn’t be able to connect without it.
Things have changed because the world is different. Neighborhoods, communities, and the proverbial front porch conversation are a thing of the past. We’ve traded shooting the shit for time-bound interactions, tribal echo chambers, distracting nonsense, and heated keyboard warfare.
Depth and common ground actually exist. We’re just losing ways to access it.
It feels like everything has a sharp edge.
For anyone building a community-based product, there’s much to consider.
I just ask that you think deeply about this: How can you create more round edges?
We have enough sharpness in our world today.
This was inspired by a conversation we had as a team yesterday.
My co-founder Jackson and I proposed a new tagline for Everyone: “The Front Porch of the Internet”.
Subtext: People used to talk, face-to-face, as real people, about real stuff. That feeling, that sense of community—it's worth bringing back. So that's what we're going to do.
Younger members of our team couldn’t relate. A deep conversation ensued as to why.
The copy is still live on our site if you’re interested in checking it out.