I’m an Arizona native. During my time living in this state I have been able to make several observations about social behavior in the area. One such observation has do with the way neighbors tend to interact with each other on a consistent basis.
During my time as an adult I’ve had the opportunity to live in an apartment complex and 2 houses. Let’s set aside the apartment living, as based on demographics and transition it would stand to reason that the tenants may not have a chance to get to know each other very well.
Our first house in Chandler was for a 9-year duration, and the second has been 6 years now. While we realize that it isn’t the 1950s, it was slightly disappointing to not be welcomed to the neighborhood by anyone on our street at both houses. So we went ahead and put some effort forth to meet a few of the neighbors. Those conversations were nice, cordial , and fairly brief in nature. Afterwards whenever we would see those neighbors, either while pulling into the carport or garage or working out in front of their house, a somewhat forced “hi” with the wave of a hand followed.
Over time we noticed that not much changed with the social behavior of the neighbors. No one really seemed to know each other, despite many of the residents having lived there for a period of years. It was very uncommon to see neighbors visiting with each other in front of one of their homes, or people knocking on each others’ doors to borrow a cup of sugar or some other household item.
This prompted the question – “Why?”
Could it have to do with how nice the weather is in Phoenix most of the time? (yes, we do hibernate in the summer but it’s pretty darn nice out for 9 months of the year) What about the fact that Arizona has one of the lowest percentages of natives? (think about the last time you found out someone was born here) Then you’ve got a decent amount of folks migrating here from the midwest and California – could that have something to do with it? Are we all just too busy to talk to our neighbors?
I’m no expert in human behavior & interaction, but it seems that the weather may have something to do with being disconnected from our neighbors.
Let’s look into this a bit further:
Think about places where the weather is pretty much awesome year-round. Of course these places tend to be on the coastlines – San Diego, Miami, Los Angeles. Mind you these are big cities just like Phoenix and the suburbs are probably better in the neighborly category, but would the average person know who their neighbors (even just 1 or 2 of them) are in terms of first names, what’s going on in their life, kids names, etc?
Everyone these days is busy raising a family, working full-time, trying to provide a living, so that can’t be the difference. What about technology & people being glued to their phones? Again, everyone has access to the same products & technology so that can’t be it.
Growing up here this was not an issue. My wife (who is also an Arizona native) remembers having all of her neighbors’ addresses and phone numbers hanging on the kitchen wall for easy access to everyone in the family. People knew their neighbors and kids played in the street. Because you knew your neighbors, you trusted your kids in the street. You knew your friends all “watched out for each other.”
Nothing against the above-mentioned cities because they are all great in their own way, but I believe the reason they aren’t considered neighborly has to do with the fact that there really is no need for them to know their neighbors. Typically you have no harsh weather or natural disasters to contend with, and thus do not need that kind of help or support network to assist if/when something weather-wise happens.
Those who live in the midwest have a better reputation for being neighborly. Because of harsh shows, tornadoes, and other inclement weather, it’s important to get to know those around you because you never know when you’ll be in a bind and require help.
Do you think people are generally neighborly where you live? Comment below & let us know where you’re located.