423. I Have a Million Neighbors

Most of us have neighbors. We may be separated by a wall, street, or building—or cornfield, if you live in Indiana. However close our neighbors may be, there is nearly always a separation of some kind.

Then there’s the Internet, where all that separates me from millions of other people are a few clicks or keystrokes. Privacy can be an elusive privilege on the World Wide Web. Almost anyone can find you. Almost anyone can be your neighbor, and you can be a neighbor to almost anyone. We’re all neighbors on the Internet. Every time I open my web browser, I enter a space with a million neighbors.

So what?

There once lived a humble, gentle, and kindhearted man, who taught of the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself.

I speak, of course, of Mr. Rogers.

Mr. RogersDo you know who else knew how to be a good neighbor? Totoro. Totoro knew how to be a good neighbor. Heck, I wish I were neighbors with Totoro, and I’m definitely not the only one. I couldn’t ask for a better neighbor than this fuzzy forest spirit.


I can think of yet another good neighbor. There’s an old, old story of a traveler who was attacked by robbers and left half dead on the road. (You’ve probably heard this one.) A couple of people ignored the wounded man, but a stranger took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, and carried him to safety.

Good Samaritan

Art by Dan Burr.

That story of a good neighbor was told by Jesus Christ, the leading expert on loving people. According to Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is one of the most important rules in the universe.

We must love our neighbors. I mean, we can hardly disagree with Mr. Rogers, Totoro, and Jesus Christ, can we?

We’re all neighbors on the Internet, and we must love our neighbors, so what now? Well, this Friday is March 4, and if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know what that means.

March 4 is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day. This Friday marks the event’s fifth year—and, due to the end of TMTF later this year, the last one to be celebrated on this blog. (After TMTF concludes, I plan to celebrate the event every year on Facebook and Twitter.)

Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day is, well, a day for being nice to someone on the Internet. On March 4, or any time this week, go to someone’s personal profile, account, channel, blog, or webpage, and leave an uplifting comment. Send someone an encouraging message, note, tweet, or email. Find a person you appreciate—whether a content creator, friend, or total stranger—and be a good neighbor.

We’re all neighbors on the Internet. On Friday, March 4, let’s be good ones!

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