Prior to the turn of the 20th century, it was not uncommon to have multi-generational housing. We saw a lot of farming and apprenticeships. The young boys and girls were taken under the wing of an apprentice to learn their trade in life. Careers were very social and many times centered around the community and church. When you arrived home from work, it was not uncommon to share a meal with your neighbors family, or at the very least to socialize out on the front porch with a glass of ice tea and a slice of pie. This is where kids would play in the yard, and neighbors would unwind from a long day by catching up with their neighbors who were like family.
Around the turn of the century (for all of you young people reading this, that is 1900 not 2000) we experienced the Industrial Revolution. Things were set into place where we were more automated in our production, such as the assembly lines that started with Eli Whitney's cotton gin, and later materialized in the auto industry. America's housing exploded on the scene. Mass neighborhoods were built in suburbia, and the term "single family home" was coined.
Later on in the 20th century, we started seeing "movements." The "Civil Rights" movement came on the scene in the 50's and 60's, the "Anti-War" movement in the late 60's and early 70's, and the "Women's Liberation" movement in the 60's & 70's. Although you can argue positives and negatives of each of these, they also had their destructive powers in the synergy of the United States of America. The civil rights movement was a much needed movement, but I would venture to say that evidence today shows that we never fully embraced the equality of all mankind, and racial divides still exist. As a result of the Vietnam War, many pacifists have flooded the streets in opposition to any security concerns. The Women's Liberation movement, like anything in my opinion, has gone too far as a lot of extremes in life do. This being said, the divide of opinions and convictions grew wider in society than they ever had in recent history.
With this divide came the mental walls that were built in peoples lives. A new profession sprouted up that was not there before. Psychologist started answering the call to introspectively evaluate concerns and hurts with their patients that were not aired with those that caused the hurt. We started to see more walls built in our lives in opposition to communication. Instead of socializing on front porches anymore, we started migrating to the marketed "Back Yard Barbeque" mentality. This was an invite only club that we as Americans started forming. Unless you were formally invited inside the front door, you were not allowed to enter the secret domain of the back yard. The 4th of July parades that everybody participated in on their streets in the 70's took a back seat to television and MTV. We soon merged into an electronic age.
Now we take such things for granted as flying. We get upset when the Wi-Fi is not working on the airplane, instead of sitting there with our mouths wide open in awe that we are flying in a seat through the air. As a society we have become so entrenched as to how many people read our blogs (yes I am also curious) and social media posts. Is Pokémon going to be at the coffee shop that we frequent, or will I have to wade across oncoming traffic to find him in the center of the highway?
So now in 2016 we are stuck with houses with aesthetic front porches for looks only, that are more an entryway and a stoop, then they are somewhere you could actually sit. When you mosey on over to the back yard, most people have a minimum of a 6' privacy fence, with some as high as 10-12. Donald Trump wants to build a wall along our border, all we need to do is remove half of the panels from peoples back yard fences, and we will solve that problem. The goal is to block out as many neighbors on all 3 sides of the yard as possible. Heaven forbid if you have a "Wilson" like in Home Improvement stick his nose through the slats of your privacy fence. We don't even want to utter a grunt to most people in case they catch on that there are living breathing humans next to them. We have become our own Jurassic Park. We are trying to keep the Velociraptor's from coming into our domain. I hate to break it to you, but society is not a movie set. We need to break down barriers that separate us. Don't get me wrong, I love my privacy. Some days I am surrounded by people all day long, that I just need to read a book in serenity by myself.
It just so happens that the neighborhood that we moved into back in April, does not allow privacy fences. For the most part, the 35 houses on my street don't have fences at all. That is very nice and aesthetically pleasing, however it still doesn't change the heart. The yards are 2+acres, and people are still doing their socializing on their back decks surrounded by the cover of camouflaging trees and shrubbery, that is if you can get them outside at all. I find myself walking in my front yard most nights just seeing if I can catch one of my neighbors out in theirs so I can ask them how their day was, and tell them about mine. I know that at 42 years old I am still too young to have fully taken advantage of the "Front Porch Generation," but it doesn't keep me wishing for simpler times when we didn't build walls to shut each other out, and we were willing to communicate face to face. Technology and Progressiveness have their weaknesses, and my friends, this is one of them!