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Love Thy Neighbor? Most Americans Don’t Know Next-Door Names

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — When it comes to being a good Samaritan, most of us are just as likely to poke our neighbors on Facebook as we are to lend a helping hand — that is, when we’re not shaking our fist at them.

A new study commissioned by State Farm finds that while 83 percent of Americans say they are willing to help a neighbor in need, a whopping 60 percent of us have complaints about our neighbors.

Topping the list of complaints: out-of-control pets or kids, noise, and poorly maintained property.

Still, there’s evidence that the neighborly spirit often depicted in TV shows from the mid-to-late 1900′s is still alive and well in the U.S.

As many as 45 percent of people surveyed indicated they would help a neighbor look for a job or cook meals for them, and 32 percent said they would offer to help out with babysitting to cut down on childcare costs.

But when it comes to digging into their own pockets, only 15 percent said they would lend a neighbor money, and a paltry 10 percent would let a neighbor temporarily live with them.

Sociologist Keith Hampton told KNX 1070 the findings are actually surprisingly optimistic.

“The historical data suggests that over the last 30 to 50 years, neighboring in America has declined, although the current study [is] suggesting that neighboring may be an important part of the everyday support people get,” said Hampton.

The study also found that only 25 percent of us know our neighbors’ names — and 8 percent don’t know any of them at all.

Hampton sees the emergence of only social networking enhancing — and not replacing — the level of personal contact we share with those around us.

“While we often blame the younger generation for loss of local interaction, it turns out they’re really leading the way in terms of interacting online with their local neighbors, possibly providing a new entryway into a lifestyle that historically never really happened until you were older and married with children,” he said.

71 percent of those surveyed say they interact with their neighbors face to face on a monthly basis. But there were also double-digit responses for email, social networking and texting our neighbors as well.

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