Does Drinking Make Us Better Neighbors?

Friendly Neighbors TalkingIf you recently moved into a new neighborhood, you may be wondering if you should get to know your neighbors and what’s a good way to go about it. Or, perhaps you haven’t even acknowledged the existence of your neighbors for a decade, and you think it might be time to turn over a new leaf. Of course, if you’re on the shy side, then approaching a stranger, much less talking to them, can be extremely awkward.

If you enjoy tipping a few cocktails back with your pals and relatives, however, then you might be thinking that boozing it up with your neighbors could be a fun way to get to know them. After all, they don’t call alcohol a “social lubricant” because people can slide by each other easier in a packed bar if they’re soaking wet from it. Or at least, that’s not how most people use the expression.

But does drinking make us better neighbors? Will you actually bond with the folks next door by getting your buzz on with them? Probably, but depending on what kind of drinkers you and they are, things could go south in a hurry.

Why should I even care about my neighbor?

Of course, in our digital age with smart phones and social media, plenty of people are too busy trying to keep up with their friends around the world, let alone the odd-looking dude that lives next door. In fact, you could be one of those people who dives for their phone and pretends they’re receiving a call anytime your neighbor is within thirty feet of you.

While times have changed, and tons of folks wouldn’t even know that their neighbor is standing right beside them at the liquor store, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Depending on your neighbor, of course.

According to various studies, people who trust their neighbors and have a larger social network live longer than people that don’t. After all, people who have others looking in on them are more likely to get help in the event of an emergency, rather than the angry hermit who yells at kids for running across the lawn.

Friendly neighbors can also reduce stress in your life by watching over your house, taking in your mail, or mowing your lawn while you’re away. Stress is a killer, in case you didn’t know. Then, there’s also the fact that they could be nice, interesting people who you might enjoy spending time with. Imagine that.

Does booze make people happy?

Although there may be a lot of good reasons to get to know your neighbors, does that mean drinking with them will automatically bring you closer together? Not necessarily.

While a recent study indicates that drinking alcohol releases endorphins, which can make you feel pretty sweet all around, other studies show that a small minority of people are “angry drunks.” If you, or your neighbor, are one of these people, then getting hammered together could lead to trouble. In other words, playing lawn darts might not be such a good idea once you’ve polished off a keg.

Drinking alcohol affects the part of the brain that’s responsible for reasoning, and not for the better. This is why you may have told your boss at the staff party that he’s “pretty much useless” or why you might have thought it was a good idea to do a strip tease in the middle of the dance floor. In other words, booze and good judgement don’t mix.

So, if you and your neighbors are in good moods and are generally pleasant people, then chances are a night of drinking won’t end too terribly. Then again, your nicely buzzed neighbor could point out that your “carpet is hideous” or that you could “stand to lose a few pounds.”

Even worse, if your neighbor has a wandering eye, then they might make a pass at your significant other right after they’ve shot their tenth beer. Then again, depending on your tolerance to alcohol and state of mind, you could be the one that finds themselves in hot water after an inappropriate action or comment.

When should we drink together?

Due to the fact that not everyone is the “life of the party” for the right reason, think about inviting several neighbors over for a get-together, instead of just one couple or person. Unless someone is completely clueless when it comes to socially acceptable behaviour, chances are with a big group of people no one will get too far out of hand. You’ll also have backup if someone does.

You could invite everyone over for a “get to know you” party and, of course, there is no shortage of holidays where you could have a barbeque or get-together. Events like the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the Olympics are also a good excuse. If there are kids involved, think about playing some games, just as long as they don’t involve booze…

Once you get to know a few people on the street, or in your building, then think about inviting just a handful of folks over. By this time, you’ll probably have a good sense of whether they’re pleasant and fun to be around when they’re drinking, or if they turn into a raging lunatic who all of a sudden hates your face.