Stylist reader columnist, Olivia Pinnock, is a 22-year-old fashion journalist who lives in London. Here she tells us why she's had it with unfriendly neighbours.
Picture Credit: Rex Features.
Do you know who your neighbours are?
When I was growing up we knew all our neighbours, even those a few doors down, and we used to play on the street with the other local kids.
Now, having immigrated to London, I’m embarrassed to say I have only mumbled an awkward hello to our neighbours in the nine months that I have lived in my house.
We recently had a Jehovah’s Witness come to the door who asked what I thought about the London riots and did I think people were no longer full of love and respect. In all honesty I thought he was being a little harsh on humanity. “No,” I responded “I see a lot of love and respect between friends and family.”
But as I closed the door feeling that the world was at rights, I began to think about the impact of only saving your love and respect for the ‘chosen few’.
The problem we have nowadays is that we are so mobile in every sense of the word. I travel over 20 miles just to get to work, my best friend lives on the other side of the country, I have family in New Zealand and all I ‘need’ from my local area is the supermarket and the train station.
When we sit in public alone, instead of engaging with our surroundings we take out our smartphones and narrow ourselves down into our own online communities built up of people we have chosen to be a part of it.
We often think our increasing amount of travel and number of one person households are a strain on the environment and our infrastructure but there may also be issues a bit closer to home.
"It brings me reassurance to know that my Grandpa has good neighbours, who will check in on him if he hasn’t opened his blinds that morning..."
Despite the cosmopolitan nature of our modern lives, we seem to have less variety in our social circles. If we are involved in a community that isn’t just made up of our immediate family, friends and colleagues we meet people of different ages, races and interests and while it may be challenging, it’s also a valuable lesson to learn.
Being detached from our neighbours is also a concern for our safety. It brings me reassurance to know that my Grandpa, who lives two hours away, has good neighbours, whom he knows, that will check in on him if he hasn’t opened his blinds that morning or cook him dinner every once in a while.
On the extreme end the London riots showed us the disastrous effect of a whole generation of young people who do not engage with their geographical community and who feel marginalised.
But while I’ve realised the importance of a geographical community, I’m struggling to find a way to resolve it.
I seem to have two main problems. 1) I am not religious and 2) I don’t have children.
As a busy professional, living in somewhere as vast as London, there seem to be very few ways to get involved with my surroundings and I find myself reluctant to dedicate the time to it. I know I’m not alone and there seems to be whole sections of society who have no easy route in to their community.
But, as I find myself making the excuses that I don’t have time and I don’t want a new hobby I realise that it’s just like any relationship and if I truly believe it’s worth investing in, I should make the effort.
And it needn’t be that intensive really. Perhaps if we all read our local newspaper, smiled at people we pass on our street and opted to go to the local pub every once in a while, we’d soon feel more of an attachment to our neighbourhood than to our Facebook accounts.
Do you, like Olivia, feel as though you could make more of an effort with your neighbours and the people around you? Share your thoughts on Twitter @StylistMagazine or in the comments below.