The popular assumption is that the internet…mobile phones… texting…and other new technologies…have enabled Americans to become increasingly isolated. Indeed, past sociological research has supported this assumption.
In a recently released report by the Pew Foundation, "Neighbors Online", it was revealed that internet users are more likely to meet their neighbors face-to-face and engage in meaningful discussions of community issues. Also, people’s use of mobile phones and the internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks. When their full personal network is examined…i.e. both strong and weak ties…internet use, in general, and use of social networking services, such as Facebook, in particular, are associated with more diverse social networks.
The Pew findings include:
- Knowing one’s neighbors’ names is a key predictor of how much people chatted in person about community topics. If you know your neighbors’ names, you are 70% likely to be talking to them about various community topics, and if you don’t know their names, you are only 12% likely to do so.
- Internet users are more likely to meet their neighbors face-to-face and engage in community issues, i.e. 50% vs. 35%.
- Speaking face-to-face is still the most common way that people interact regarding issues that affect the community. 46% of Americans talked face-to-face with neighbors about community issues, 21% discussed community issues over the telephone, and 11% read a blog dealing with community issues.
- Having face-to-face interactions with neighbors about community developments is closely linked to factors such as: age, socio-economic status, education, and race.
- Women are slightly more likely than men to know all, or most, of their neighbors, i.e. 44% vs. 40%.
For financial advisors, this report reveals interesting implications regarding the importance of connecting with others in their respective communities. The most obvious finding is that simply knowing the names of your neighbors greatly increases the likelihood of engaging them in some form of conversation or dialogue, even if it’s something as basic as the weather.
(Coaching Question: Do you know all your neighbors? Can you name them? How well do you know them? What types of conversations do you have with them? If you don’t know all of them, why not introduce yourself the next time you see them and explain who you are and what you do? Who knows, they may just be in the market for a good (and friendly) financial advisor.)