Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Free eggs, bobcat sightings, local seamstress

Posted on Sunday, April 27, 2008 by No comments yet

Jen Mincar writes from Richmond, VT today…

I love Front Porch Forum. It’s such a great vehicle for bringing us all closer together. My visiting friends from across the country laugh when they read the posts about free eggs, or bobcat sightings, or someone looking for a good local seamstress, but I LOVE it. It’s tough to know your neighbors through the woods sometimes, so it’s nice to get to know them through the computer. And then you have something fun to talk about at the local neighborhood bash that we find out about through the forum!

That’s great to hear! And I’m curious about what the out-of-town friends find funny. Jen?

UPDATE: A fascinating response from Jen…

The friends/family that laugh are doing so more out of genuine surprise that we would actually go so far as to trust someone, albeit a ‘neighbor’, that we’ve never met. A lot of them come from bigger cities, and they covet their anonymity. They don’t want anyone to know their name, where they live, what they have in their house, or what they have to offer. The don’t want to know their neighbors. They don’t trust their neighbors. And they are really shocked and happy that there are still places and communities in the world where people trust one another so openly. They find it almost unreal. Unbelievable. “Why are people sharing like that?” is a question that someone asked me. My only answer was “because that’s how we do things here”.

The evils of the computer and internet are also in question. My sister, who works in internet forensics, asked how I could be sure that child molesters weren’t out there lurking around when I posted to the forum about trying to find a sitter for my two kids. Now he knows my name, my kids name, where we live, and our phone number. Aren’t we scared. Everyone/anyone knows all about me and the kids now. It’s a valid question. One I didn’t even think about it. Technology tends to want to make people stay anonymous. Giving out your real name and number suddenly seems like a lot of exposure. TMI…too much information. I guess it’s about trust again.

I trust the people in my neighborhood, both in person and on the FPF. Again, maybe it’s just ‘how we do things here’. Would the FPF fly in NYC? Or Vegas, where my sister lives? Good question.

FPF is social networking with a twist, and that’s extremely hot right now with younger generations and lots of business networking websites. It’s the softer/gentler version of Facebook , LinkedIn, you name it, without the pics, although maybe with your upgrades you’re headed in that direction?

After hosting 130 FPF online neighborhood forums in a variety of settings (urban, rural, suburban, village, poor, rich, Republican, Democratic, Progressive, etc.), I think that the feelings of mistrust detailed above are widespread. However, I believe that the latent desire to know the neighbors and feel plugged in locally is even more powerful and that Front Porch Forum is helping wake it up in many communities… and can do it many more.

Posted in: Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Local Online, Neighborhood, social capital, Social Networking, Stories

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