The World Is Ending, So Just Talk to Your Neighbors

Illustration for article titled The World Is Ending, So Just Talk to Your Neighbors
Image: AP

Do you talk to your neighbors? Do you wish you did? It’s not too late—and there may be benefits beyond a helping hand when you inevitably lock yourself out of your home or fear you’ve left the stove on.

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As part of BBC’s Crossing Divides video series meant to bring “people together in a fragmented world,” reporter Maddy Savage visited a block of apartments converted from an assisted living facility in Helsingborg, Sweden where tenants are forced to socialize with one another for a minimum two hours each week. All 70 residents must be under 25-years-old or senior enough to receive a pension, in a city funded attempt to get different generations talking and combat a nationwide loneliness epidemic. Based on the four minute clip, it seems to be working—olds and youngs are happy to chat with one another and live in a communal environment:

As a person who has lived in New York City for far too long, the idea of being forced to communicate with my neighbors seems like a nightmare (though, if I were under 25 and could hang out with old Swedish ladies, I am confident I’d move into a Helsingborg Home ASAP.) I brought the quandary to the rest of the Jezebel team, and everyone seemed to agree that forced time with close strangers seems, well, forced—but communicating and being friendly with your neighbors is an underrated practice. It’s an easy way to feel like part of a community, and totally does combat loneliness. Imagine a world where you really could borrow a cup of sugar from the guy who lives next door. Now that’s the dream!

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

thehighwomaninthecastle
The High Woman In The Castle

I don’t talk to strangers because:

1) I literally live in fear of men I don’t know. Sure 90% of them are probably just going from point A to point B with nary a thought of harming another person, but it’s that 10% I pretty much assume are going to either kidnap me and force me to live in a bunker or carve me up. I’d rather be overly vigilant than not.

2) If a stranger is nice to me, I assume s/he is trying to sell me on some MLM crap or getting me to join a cult. My sister gets regularly accosted by Mary Kay women who compliment her on her make up and then try to sell her stuff while she’s in line at Starbucks on her way to work.

3) For all the snarking I do on here, I genuinely feel connected to people on Jezebel. I can go entire days without seeing another human being, but I don’t feel lonely because I’m active on here. Sure it’s not a face to face connection, but I don’t feel the loss of a human connection at all. I’ve had way more intellectually engaging conversations and connections on here than with the paranoid white people in my neighborhood who freak out on Facebook when some brown kid plays on the communal playground.

So, no, my ass ain’t going to be your neighbor. Sorry!