14 June 2023

As our communities become less cohesive, bad citizenship abounds

| Zoya Patel
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exercise bike

It’s not that hard to play by ‘the rules’ (or know the difference between whoever and whomever … just saying). Photo: Zoya Patel.

Every day this week, I’ve driven past a dumped exercise bike sitting in front of one of the waste centres in my townhouse complex.

A few days ago, a sign appeared taped to the bike, scrawled angrily in black ink: “To whoever dumped this bike – um … no. Take it to the tip!!”

Needless to say, the bike has remained there. It is just the latest in a long line of household furniture, appliances and other unwanted items that have found their way in the dead of night to the skips, where they are definitely not allowed to be left.

Not long after the bike appeared, I read another frustrated neighbour’s post on our residents’ Facebook group.

“I just pulled Oporto takeaway rubbish out of the green waste bin. Seriously, people. It’s not that hard to live in society.”

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The irritation is clearly building, but the sad reality is that the sneaky behaviour will continue because, in a communal living situation like ours, there’s very little incentive for people to do the right thing. Rubbish dumping is only really the start of the issue. We’re also constantly getting notices from the body corporate about people hogging visitor parking spots, driving too fast through the complex, dumping e-scooters on the driveway, etc etc.

These behaviours are all minor in the grand scheme of things, but there is no real sense of responsibility or shared citizenship in the complex and in my view, that’s just the sad reality of this type of living. We have so many households crammed into a small area, living on top of each other with very little privacy or space, and we’re forced to interact for shared amenities, like the bins, the communal driveways, car parks and barbeque areas.

Yet most of us won’t even make eye contact when we meet, and I am more likely to know the names of the other dogs in the complex who have interacted with my dog than any of the people.

Is this just the way neighbourhoods are now? Increased density means the days of quiet suburban streets where you know all of your neighbours are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and instead, we now have triple the number of neighbours and less impetus to actually meet any of them.

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Contrast this to a recent visit to my parents’ place. They live on a property on the outskirts of Canberra, and despite being separated from their neighbours by kilometres on either side, they know literally all of them. Mum told me yesterday that her check engine light came on her car the other day and my dad was out of town. She just dropped by the neighbour’s place and he checked it out, topped up her coolant and sent her on her way. It was such a lovely display of community, and if anything, made it even clearer to me how lacking that is in my own neighbourhood.

Even as I type this, though, I would feel very weird about knocking on my neighbour’s doors to say hello and introduce myself. Partly I think this is generational – my generation is notorious for not wanting to interact with people if we can get away with it. We’re the reason for ‘no talking’ hair salons and contactless delivery continuing long after COVID. But I also think it’s a society-wide shift, to a degree, away from a sense of neighbourhood identity towards more individual-focused households.

How can we expect people to follow the rules and have a sense of shared responsibility in communal living situations when we don’t even know our neighbours as people? Despite the narky notes and Facebook comments, that exercise bike is still there a week later, and more detritus appears to be accumulating at other bin sites around the complex.

Something tells me it won’t go anywhere until someone is frustrated enough to drive it to the tip themselves.

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People have been rejecting God for ages, and now complain when the moderating influence of Christianity is declining and evil hates a vacuum, so……

Crazed_Loner12:44 am 16 Jun 23

“The moderating influence of Christianity” – well, if you ignore 2,000 years of violent history…

Violence comes from govt/kings, not christianity.
The biggest killer of humans in the last 100 years has been demicide.
Pol Polt, Hitler, Stalin, Mao.

“Thou shalt not kill…”

Gregg Heldon4:59 pm 15 Jun 23

You could have been speaking about our townhouse complex.
It’s less than three years old and the issues that you show are exactly the same as ours.
I know some of my neighbours names but I have memory issues so struggle to remember them.
If we could afford to move elsewhere, I think we would.

John Schwazer1:04 pm 15 Jun 23

What the Zoya writes is very characteristic not only of high-density living environments but modern society in general. And this is so ironic given that said society never (ever, EVER!) shuts TFU about “being one”, “being compassionate”, “social justice”; etc. etc. etc. But I shouldn’t be too hard on the woke adherents to this hypocrisy, but rather point the finger at the social engineers who want things this way, so as to make us all atomised individuals, who are infinitely more able to be manipulated. And what a manipulation it is – a kind of evil genius, if you will – because as society indubitably becomes more and more divided, it genuinely thinks (thanks to that trade mark lack of self-awareness in humans) that its progressing towards some kind of equal unity, blithely unaware of the fact that only very fringe groups are getting all of the attention, while the majority gets shredded all day long, as its forced into increasingly inhuman standards of living, and forced to be content with rainbow coloured roundabouts. Oh, how I wish people would wake up to what’s happening and – as an example – start going back into the office to work, i.e., start to reclaim their humanity again.

P.S. vote NO in The Voice referendum, not because we’re hateful or racist individuals, but because we see through the woke hypocrisy

This is not just a problem for residents of apartment blocks and townhouses. Youth crime is at an all time high due to lax policing and a soft stance on drugs in the ACT. High immigration means greater cultural diversity but less of a sense of cohesion as a community. People prefer to associate with people like themselves and it’s not racism; it reflects personal preference. So as a Christian I’m just not interested in getting to know neighbours not of my faith. Happy to be cordial towards them when it comes to property matters but certainly would not impinge on their personal privacy and nor should they impinge on mine.

I’ll also point that a lot of the issues relating to courtesy and etiquette are just not taught or observed in the countries from which new migrants arrive. Those from third world countries frequently dump their trash on public roads, chew with their mouth open, eat with hands and don’t wash hands after using the bathroom. Unless we include it as part of the visa application process you can’t expect these behaviours and manners to be inherent in a more multicultural population.

Well Sam you’d be disappointed to know that the historical Jesus of Nazareth is likely a fisherman who probably eats with his unwashed hands, chews with his mouth open and hasn’t showered for days.

ibeeneverywhere2:12 am 16 Jun 23

”and a soft stance on drugs in the ACT” [citation needed]. You’re so convinced that everything bad is because of things you don’t like but you haven’t really got any idea.

It is a big problem having people living so physically close to one another, and government planning should not allow it. Many of these people have vastly different values and beliefs and cannot live peacefully together. Cramped living causes social and cultural problems.
Immigration is to blame, and sadly Australian society is deteriorating, and will get far worse.

What you are describing is the inevitable social alienation of cramped apartment and townhouse living. You wanted densification, so you get densification, with all the problems that come with putting too many rats in the same cage. Blame Barr and all those who voted for his policies.

ibeeneverywhere2:13 am 16 Jun 23

Blame densification, but where else are people supposed to live exactly?

Do what most of us did. Study. Work. Save. Save. SAVE. Buy a small house in an outer suburb. Plant shady trees. Grow a hedge. Feed the birds.
Create a sanctuary for yourself and family. There is no need to selfishly densify and apartmentalise our city, destroying it’s livability for everyone else.

We’ve known what causes this since the 90s. Technology that enables atomisation (television and later the Internet is even worse). Mass immigration without assimilation. Government mandated dehumanisation, such as what we saw over the last three years, doesn’t help either.

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