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Social Media Brings Neighborhoods Together


Photo: Video by kmtv.com

Social Media Brings Neighborhoods Together

By Jennifer Griswold. CREATED Nov 11, 2013
Omaha, NE - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram- you name it, nearly everyone has it.  
Social media has changed our lives in every way imaginable, but could all these changes actually benefit communities?
"There's a reality to social, but it's a different reality," said UNO professor Jeremy Lipschultz.
There is no disputing the communication game is a far cry from what it was just a few years ago.
Lipschultz called it a social revolution.
"I think we went from an online world that was primarily one way, although interactive, to a conversation," he said. 
The ability to share where you are, what you're doing and the news of the day is all at your fingertips.
"The biggest change is this," Lipschultz said as held his smart phone. "Here it is, in our hand, in our pocket. We are always connected."
It's that idea of constant connection that's changing more than just individual people. It's changing our neighbors, communities and the world around us.
The proof is right here in Omaha.
From Old Market to Benson to South Omaha, community groups have Facebook pages that are bringing people together who otherwise may not have met.
"It's really here to stay," said Kurt Goetzinger, the administrator for Benson's social media pages. "It's another way to keep us connected, to get us connected and to activate people. Those are really big steps when you want to make change in your neighborhood."
Community websites, Twitter accounts and Nextdoor.com are all changing the place you call home.
"That's going to be where you might catch a referral for a babysitter service or a tree service or, 'Hey, we noticed this truck driving down the alley doing this activity. Here's the license plate. Has anyone else noticed?'" said Mike Battershell, the president of the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance. 
On the Benson, NE or South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance Facebook pages, there are posts about community meetings, job openings, lost pets and real estate listings.
Things people used to wait to come in the mail, now arrive instantly in the palm of their hand.
"The positive side is what we call, 'crowdsourcing'" said Lipschultz. "It means that everybody who has one of these phones is in a position to be eyes and ears for all of us."
While community organizations said there is no doubt social media has changed the way we interact on a daily basis, they also said it will never erase the importance of neighbors meeting neighbors face-to-face.
"This is a way to connect you while you're not together," said Goetzinger. "What we try to do with this Benson page and the website is to bring people together for events. If you've got people out in their neighborhoods getting to know their neighbors again, that's a good thing for everybody."