I found my next door neighbor on Twitter today. Totally by accident. Did I mention, we've never actually spoken in 6 years, nor even know each other's names?
So I was looking up something on Google Maps, started messing around with the overlays, and found an option called Buzz. Clicked it, and little bubbles pop up on the map that are people's status updates. Like, "Goin' to the store," or "Sooo tired this morning," but they posted it on Google! With their street address! Why would anyone do such a thing? Beats me.
Anyway, one of the bubbles was on my street, one house number down. So I click through to this lady's profile, which links to her Twitter. Nothing out of the ordinary - what her kids are up to, reactions to the news or the weather, retweets at celebrities.
All stuff I would probably know if we'd ever had a conversation. But no, cause I'm the private type. To a fault, perhaps. Not like most of my neighbors. They know how to start a conversation, what questions to ask, how to do small talk. They even enjoy it, go fig! But me, I prefer to stay anonymous rather than risk making a negative impression.
I thought this was an Aspie thing, but turns out, it's more widespread. Charles Blow writes in the New York Times that 28% of Americans know none of their neighbors by name. He blames Twitter, and other social media, for taking the place of human interaction. I don't think so. I think many of us, even NT's, find socializing awkward, and uncomfortable. We won't admit it, but we fear exposing how inept we are. Maybe we calm those nerves with alcohol. Not to mention, finding common ground with someone you've just met can be tedious. Many of us just don't want to bother. Not saying we're right, just that it's reality.
Neighbor lady's tweets confirmed what I knew of her. She's a nice enough person, we just don't have much in common. Am I missing out by remaining a stranger? Not really. And if she thinks the same of me, that's OK. And yet, it's oddly comforting to be reminded she's a 3-D person, not a caricature. That's how I tend to see my neighbors. Guy Who Walks a Wiener Dog, or Girl Who Blasts Rap Music. Now that I've read her tweets, I might actually be more willing to say hello if the chance arose. Not saying I will, just that I might.
Admit it, deep down, don't you wish there was a shortcut to tell you who's worth talking to, and who isn't? Without the hassle of introductions and meaningless chit chat? Say you could just point your mobile phone at the person and get a little snapshot profile, y'know? I just know someone's already working on the technology.