April 24, 2020 | KPDI
The world is getting sillier every day and the latest fad is called Number Neighbors, a game where kids (mostly) text phone numbers that are identical to their own but with the last digit changed by one. That’s a number neighbour.
Number Neighbors Began as Text Door Neighbors
The concept of number neighbors is not new. In fact, it’s been around for at least a decade when it was called “Text door neighbors” according to The Urban Dictionary. The practice dates back to 2008 when the definition was, “the people who are a digit either side of your phone number.” The entry adds, “Many a friendship has been struck up by saying hi to a text door neighbor.”
Now, vast numbers of people have become so involved in calling or texting their own personal
number neighbor that it’s become viral. But why would so many seemingly rational people want
to spend their time texting a completely unknown person for no apparent reason?
Why Contact Your Number Neighbor?
A hundred years ago, and for millennia before that, people knew their neighbors intimately. They knew their names, what they did, and interacted with them daily. The internet, and its social media offspring have changed this. With the advent of the internet, fewer and fewer people know their neighbors. In 2018, a Pew Research study showed that less than a third of Americans, just 31%, knew who their neighbors were. There is ample evidence to suggest that “number neighbors” is a direct result of our need to break away from being closeted by the confines of the internet.
From the dawn of recorded history, we’ve known that people desire personal relationships. When there isn’t time for those relationships to grow and develop, the result is loneliness. Psychologists say that the amount of social connectedness a person needs will influence how much aloneness they can tolerate.
But, it’s not the actual number of social relationships that determines whether a person feels lonely. Instead, it’s the emotional and cognitive reactions in our experiences relative to these connections that play an important role in how we feel. Number Neighbors is just one way we attempt to return to being closer to our neighbors without having to let go of our precious cell phones. After all, just as soon as people get a reaction from their number neighbor, they take a screenshot and post it on Twitter!
What Does it Mean for Social Media Strategy?
People will always seek connections with one another, and almost everyone wants to be part of a movement. Number neighbors is one of the trends now fulfilling that need – think Harlem Shake. We often think of viral activities as something inherently digital. However, number neighbors and similar trends demonstrate that people are eager to participate in movements outside of the Internet – so long as the results end up there.
Digital planners and strategists must maintain a broad view of viral promotions and social media as a whole and consider both online and offline interactions when formulating a cohesive strategy. It may be possible to encourage and capture offline interactions among your audience that results in online content you can leverage in your marketing efforts. Examine the Number
Neighbor trend and consider how you can connect people together online and off, while keeping them connected to your brand.