Finding Internet Neighbors
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - August 14, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — There is an emerging trend on the internet. It’s a new cyber neighborhood. And Twitter is creating it.

No, it doesn’t take knocking on the door of the family that just moved in next door. There’s no need to offer a box of homemade goodies as welcome gift. There’s not even shaking of hands involved.

A smile may still be necessary, though. The very act of trying to find a new neighbor is a friendly gesture, and it naturally requires a gracious appearance. Yes, a congenial profile picture is sure to be a plus factor.

The neighbors that one may find are really close by, even closer than those next door.  They are just one click away. They are one’s “text-door” neighbors.

Madeline Purdue, at www.usatoday.com, explains: “A ‘text-door’ or number neighbor is the person who has the same phone number as you but with the last number changed. For example, if your phone number ends in 1234, your text-door neighbors’ numbers would end in 1233 and 1235 with the same area code and first three numbers.”

It can be quite confusing at first; takes getting used to. Those who have no idea about what’s going on will be taken aback or even upset by total strangers sending them texts. On the other hand, while it is not face-to-face daring, it still takes some ‘gall’ to make the first move.

It’s some kind of adventure. The one who makes the first move never knows whom he is going to come upon; it’s like shooting in the dark. Even those already in the know about the trend and ready to meet their “text-door” neighbors won’t know who they might get on the other end.

“There’s a chance you and your ‘text-door’ neighbor actually live in the same area,” Purdue says, “and [it] could potentially lead to friendships in real life.” But then again, it’s a gamble. One may instead come upon someone who’s a pest, and it’s later difficult to avoid a pest who lives just a few steps away.

And there’s yet a darker side to this novelty. The fact that it is not face-to-face interaction creates a good breeding ground for deceit. With today’s technology, it is so easy to hide oneself, to be anonymous.

Anonymity is a dangerous thing. For the most part, it brings out the worst in people. When they cannot be finger-pointed, people tend to feel they have no responsibility for their actions.   

In a virtual world like the internet, there is not guarantee to find real friendship. While there have been stories of happily-ever-after from internet encounters, these are few and far between. Overall, meaningful relationships are still nurtured face-to-face.

CYBER NEIGHBORHOOD
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