“The trust of a city street,” she writes, “is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking pop on the stoop ….”
Or cranking a 40 of Olde English on the stoop. Where does this woman live, Hobbiton? It appears so because during her period of draft dodging she ended up in Toronto, Canada but certainly not in North York or anywhere there's actual culture. That's the thing about 'Nam, you might actually be exposed to Asian people.
The only equation that runs through my mind while walking down a sidewalk is "is this person about to kick my ass?" If the answer is no, the street is safe. Case closed. When there's a cop car parked outside my front door and some shaky crackhead being manhandled into it at 8:30am, is that impacting our mutual trust? No, because we couldn't care less and have more important things to be worrying about than having our bourgeois sensibilities offended. We're going to gang up if we're personally threatened, that's it. Past that I don't know you, I don't care, if you're offering help or to jump start my car sure I'll say hi but apart from that there's no community. I went months without even seeing or talking to roommates.
“The absence of this trust is a disaster to a city street,” she insists. And, what’s more, “Its cultivation cannot be institutionalized.” (I’ll trust you to fill in the Illichian digression on that last observation!)
Actually it can be institutionalized you mayo. It's called the law. And it's a far superior mechanism for dispute resolution than gossipy ass hoes. It is through this mechanism that people can live their lives without being forced to be BFFs with people just because they live in the same geographic area. It's actually good for diversity, because people live in areas where there's opportunity, not just because all their friends live there or people of a certain skin color.
So you can't claim that somehow the inner city is more social than suburbs because you can just as easily avoid people and get lost in the crowd. I certainly don't enjoy being stalked by old lady landlords with psychological issues and similarly I'm not taking note of every car on my street 24/7 so I can dial 911.
GPS exists because it's effective. In the good old days, you asked for directions. You also drove around for hours with no clue where you were going. And just because people asked for directions doesn't mean there weren't grifters out there, or Charles Manson, nor did that person become your BFF for life feeding you hot tips over the landline so you could dial 911 at the reefer madness occurring outside.
In short, our most public digital sidewalks tend toward open hostility, rancor, and strife.
It's not comparable! At best it's maybe like a bar... except you can't see anyone, there's no body language, and far less probability of a real fight. Sidewalks exist to enable movement, not conversation.
P.S. I got appointed as moderator on a Facebook neighborhood despite never once using it. Probably because I'm white.