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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Social Media (12/01/11)

TITLE: The Neighborhood
By Brian Passe


I grew up in a small Midwestern town in the 1950ís. That was a time when people listened more to the radio than watched television. We had neighborhoods and our parents had all grown up together. Summer evenings were special times. After supper we sat on the porch or walked around the neighborhood to visit friends. We didnít send a text that we were going for a walk - we just walked. Every porch had extra chairs for visitors. There were no unexpected visitors because the evening walks always brought someone to your door.

The local news was passed around as we sat on our porches. Men talked about work, politics, fishing and the world in general. Our moms traded recipes, gave advice to new mothers and discussed the price of groceries. Our parents werenít concerned about political correctness; they believed in God and lived by the golden rule. They had lived through an economic depression and a world war; their lives were simpler now and full of hope. Children ran freely in the neighborhood and we always gathered at someoneís house because moms always had an evening treat. Our thirst was quenched with lemonade. Sometimes there was an extra batch of cookies waiting for us on the porch.

Todayís neighborhoods are housing subdivisions where families live but rarely gather. Itís not uncommon for both parents to work outside the home. Their days are rushed with demands from work and driving the kids from one organized athletic event to another. Supper is often grabbed on the run and many fathers and mothers read their e-mail while sitting on the bleachers. We now interact with friends and neighbors in a virtual world. A tweet or post to Facebook lets everyone know that weíre at the ballgame. This new media of communication letís us tell our friends that itís raining on the soccer field and everyone is covered in mud.

Contemporary neighborhoods are defined as networks of people connected via electronic bulletin boards. Life seems to move faster in the virtual world. Discussions of daily events are condensed into 150 characters mixed with acronyms only the most skilled understand. These abbreviated notes replace long conversations once shared on warm summer nights. No longer do we linger and listen to crickets or the breeze of wind blowing gently through the trees. These are replaced by the rapid click of keys while waiting for a streetlight to change. The more bold of us text a message as we drive to our next appointment. Such messages frequently lament the need to go somewhere other than home.

Times change and so does technology. Boundaries of our lives are redefined as we move from one subdivision or city to another. Our virtual neighbors need not reside in any area for an extended period of time. We stay in touch with the click of small keys on phones that have somehow become smart. The tide of time cannot be held in place anymore than the ocean tide. It is our destiny to move forward, discarding that which we once held dear, replaced by memories of times long gone.

The click of keys does not remind me of evening crickets. My car, stuck in traffic, does not have the comfort of a front porch. Social networks and media do not have the comfort of friends sharing lemonade in the dimming twilight of a day. Perhaps history will repeat itself and we will return to those warm evening nights and gather with friends. Until then, Iíll turn off my phone and look longingly out my screened porch, hoping for a real person to fill an empty chair.

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This article has been read 388 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Hiram Claudio12/15/11
Oh wow! This was wonderful. It truly and repeatedly evoked so many emotions and created so many images that could actually be felt. I really felt like was in your old neighborhood as friends moved from house to house. I could almost hear the crickets.

Your commentary on the changing times is so clear and very sound. You're right, stopping progress is a fruitless effort. But it is a shame that with all the advancements that attempt to "make our lives better" that we lose much of life's depth that those simplier times provided.

This was such an enjoyable and moving piece. Thank you so much!
C D Swanson 12/15/11
This was a brilliant entry and was so alarmingly true.

It was spot on in topic and pulled me right along as if I was on a "tour of your neighborhood" from years past!

The imagery, the logic, and the explanations of the expulsion of "technological advancement" was compelling and honest.

Thank you for this. Great job! God Bless~
Deborah Rampona Oliver 12/15/11
This essay was like a cool drink of water for my soul! Beautiful, beautiful writing! I love the contrast between the keys and the cricket, the car and the porch. Personally, I LONG for a neighborhood! I love small towns and rural lives for that very reason. This touched my heart. Wonderful!
Jeanette Oestermyer12/17/11
This is a most enjoyable writing and so well written and the imagery is wonderful. I, also, can hear the crickets and I am taken to this neighborhood. I grew up on a farm, but it was almost the same feeling.

Beautiful story and the writing kept in step with the topic.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/17/11
This had such a sense of longing to it. Great take on the topic and message that many share.
Hiram Claudio12/29/11
Congratulations Brian on a well deserved first place finish!
C D Swanson 12/29/11
Hello Brian,
Congratulations on an excellent entry. This was a fabulous read. God Bless~
Tina Leonard12/29/11
Amen to that and congrats on the win. I think most of us have the same general feeling toward social media. At least those who truly miss the way life was before it arrived to steal the joy of living and interaction away.