How to use social media to get to know your neighbors

Nextdoor.com surrounds cloud and earth

Do you struggle finding that balance between relationships “in-the-cloud” and relationships on the ground?

You are not alone.

Yes, social media sites make you feel more connected and prove to be social outlets for many. But they also distract from the deeper relationships that only happen face-to-face.

For the past six years I struggled to connect people on the internet with people in their neighborhoods. I held Meetups, pitched wildly underdeveloped ideas to friends, and summoned the almighty Google mapping app, but nothing took solid form–until Nextdoor.com*.

My conversion

Before Nextdoor.com I was restless and worried. My dreams were toilsome. Then a mighty change dawned into my life…

…It was early winter of 2012 when a stranger approached asking if he could share the good news of Nextdoor.com. I listened to his story, but couldn’t believe it.

The following week a similar person made wild claims about Nextdoor.com’s ease of use, and community building power–a warm feeling began to grow inside of me.

Finally, a friend nudged me off the cliff of doubt with a gentle exhortation, “Rigel, everyone’s doing it, why aren’t you?” I interpreted this as a sign from above, and immediately took action by launching my highly-focused procrastination ritual.

By springtime of the next year, after completing my deep inner-work, I emerged like a phoenix from the ashes possessing renewed courage. I boldly opened a fresh browser window and found Nextdoor.com, clicked their promotional video, and changed my life forever.

Now I meet new neighbors all the time, I rest peacefully, and have confidence connecting friends and clients to an online resource that builds community on the ground.

Nextdoor.com is a social media site unlike any other. For the past 15 years neighbors have used list-serves to connect with each other. But those days are numbered.

7 reasons to use Nextdoor.com

  1. Closed-system. This means that only the people who actually live within the boundaries of your neighborhood have access to the site. How do they do this? Nextdoor.com verifies your address with postcards. If your mailbox is not inside the boundaries of the neighborhood you don’t get a postcard, you don’t get the verification code, and you don’t get access to the site. The benefit is this: In “the cloud” you can post bad or offensive content, and the consequences are abstract. Here you post that kind of thing and it might be looking you in the eyes next time you open your front door.
  2. Hyper Participatory. Anyone can invite their neighbors. Anyone can post what they want from pictures of their lost dog, to a rant of frustration about traffic on their street. But don’t worry the site has built in regulatory systems. You can literally “mute” someone if you don’t want to hear them anymore.
  3. Groups and Categories. Create your own groups and invite neighbors to join (exp. Neighborhood Art Group, Knitting Group, Falconry).
  4. Event planner. A straight forward calendar invite system that brings people together  in person.
  5. Free postcard invitation campaign. Nextdoor.com will print and mail postcards to your neighbors. Just click on the map where you want them sent, and Voila!
  6. No ads (for now). The site is well funded by private money. But we all know what happens when that money runs out.
  7. Neighborhood crime watch: No one likes crime happening where they live, but it’s empowering when you realize that you’re not alone.

Proof that it works

Recently I found a comment on our own neighborhood site:

“Wow! Thanks everybody for all the suggestions! What awesome neighbors I have!
This connectedness rocks.” —And we live in one of the highest crime neighborhoods in Austin.

I hope this is reason enough for you to check out Nextdoor.com. Or at least launch your own highly focused procrastination ritual. And if you’re interested in more ways to get know your neighbors I invite you to Subscribe to my blog.

*No, I am not paid by Nextdoor.com. I am just an overly zealous and slightly obnoxious convert.

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