Remember when you were young and would play outside for hours with the neighborhood kids, have block parties, and chit chat with the folks next door? Often times I wonder why life isn’t as simple as it used to be, or why people don’t leave their circle or comfort zone as often as they used to.
My theory is that most folks now work longer hours to put food on the table and have other things to constantly catch up on. Weekends now seem like ‘recovery time’ from a long week, and packed with additional responsibilities. ’Social time’ has translated into ‘social media time’ to fill that friendship need. Now, there’s a new way to combine the two for more meaningful neighborly relationships.
Nextdoor.com parlayed social media time into ‘real friend’ time. It allows neighbors to connect online through a private site, giving them that opening to meet face to face. Everything, including the directory of members is visible only to fellow members, so names and addresses aren’t farmed out to marketers. You’re information is completely private, and unable to be found via search engines.
Nextdoor’s site provides a house-by-house map of neighbors who are also members. However, you can opt out of listing your home address. The site provides something I think we can all appreciate, a forum to discuss neighborhood issues, buying and selling classifieds, and recommendations for local services including plumbers and landscapers.
The company says it plans to enlist local businesses to give members special offers that are unavailable elsewhere. This, the company says, will help “generate support for local businesses, in turn strengthening their own neighborhoods.”
Nextdoor says it set up more than 2,000 ‘neighborhoods’ in the United States, about 500 to 750 households each since last October.
In order to remain exclusive, the site requires new members to prove that they actually live at the address they register, either by allowing a one-cent transaction to be processed on a credit card tied to the address, or by having an existing neighborhood member vouch for their identity. Once their address is verified, they can look at the map to see who else has joined.