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I was reading this article about rude people which, it turns out, is really about community. It reminds me a lot of the response that a lot of people had to Cliff Stoll's book Silicon Snake-oil. He argued that people shouldn't spend all their time devoted to "virtual" communities, and should spend time making their "real" communities to work. To which Regina Lynn says, "I prefer to attend to friends and lovers through our cell phones rather than allow geography to determine who I can and can't relate with." She goes on to talk about how people are socially disengaged if all they have is virtual contact. But I think Cliff was onto something: getting to know your neighbors and the people in your local community and maintaining connections with them is *really* important.

A lot of important decisions are made locally that affect your environment: community planning, zoning, tax rates, etc. is great and all that, but real democracy begins at home. Geography really does determine who gets to vote in your local elections. If you don't know the people around you, you are crippled in trying to affect who gets elected and how local issues get decided.

Geography also decides (in large part) who your kids interact with. If there are kids walking in front of your house and you don't know their names, I think you should spend more time in your front yard and get to know their names. It makes a huge difference in how a neighborhood works when the kids know that the adults know who they are. It just does.

If you think you live someplace where this stuff doesn't matter, then you probably aren't very invested in what happens there -- and you're probably being dumb. Places that are nice to live are nice precisely because there were people who were invested in the place and made it a nice place to live. It takes hard work. You should grow up and do your part.