Indians Turn to Social Media to Meet Neighbors

In rapidly modernizing, and urbanizing, India, young professionals find themselves cut off from their neighbors and small town traditions in fortress-like gated communities. The Internet is providing a platform for them to re-establish community.
June 14, 2012, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Rama Lakshmi explores the rapid changes that have taken place in just a generation, as changing patterns of socialization leave behind, "a sense of community that included celebrating festivals with neighbors, attending wedding parties in the neighborhood park and taking homemade treats to the people next door."

Enter, an online portal that "seeks to help Indians who do not want to give up their newfound desire for privacy but still secretly yearn for some of the support systems they enjoyed in the past."

"Something fundamental is changing among urban Indians today," said Jain, 27, a software engineer and co-founder of the start-up in the southern city of Bangalore. "We no longer know who our next-door neighbor is, we don't speak to each other in the elevators, and we cannot knock on the neighbor's door just to say hello without making them wary."

"That sense of loss led him [Jain] to create, a "neighborhood portal" for Indians whose lifestyles have changed with their nation's economic transformation but who still crave neighborhood life. A sort of hyper-local version of Facebook, Commonfloor creates online communities for the half-million users in 30,000 apartment buildings across 100 cities it has attracted so far."

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Published on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 in The Washington Post
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