The secret is getting involved. Join the board of your kids little league or get involved with PTO. We try to get to know people and push off learning what they do for a living as long as possible. Cocktails on the front porch most weekends.
It happens today sure, but it's a phantom of what it once was. This was American culture when my grandparents grew up. Like you were considered the weirdo for not participating.
Now it's an exceedingly rare thing to find a well-knit community such as the OP describe.
I've seen what amounts of a caricature of what used to be in some neighborhoods where my friends are the "ultra type A" types - but it takes someone like that to both start, and keep it going. As soon as they move away or otherwise have a life event, the community crumbles within months.
The community spirit of the US is effectively dead except for small little pockets that you must actively seek out to participate in. This was not the case even 40 years ago.
Just once small anecdote: My Grandfather loved fishing, lived on a lake, had fishing buddies they'd go out with here and there over the weekends. A few fishing trips scheduled a year where a dozen dudes would rent a cabin for a week and have a good time. Every single one of these guys was a pallbearer, or at least at his funeral. They were also at all his major life events, and when one of the group was in some sort of financial or other trouble the entire group was there helping without even being asked to.
How many quake clan players and HN buddies are going to have that sort of social cohesion and mutual support for each other? How many will drive 6 hours to help you fix the shed that burned out in your back yard? How many will spend 2 weeks visiting you on your death bed? I'd posit a tiny fraction if any at all.
I have though about this since I was a teenager playing Doom II with my clan buddies. Yeah, this is all super fun right now but it's all so fleeting, trite, and really ultimately pointless. Very few of those relationships actually matter. I think I got exactly one IRL long-term friend out of meeting hundreds of "internet friends" since then, and these are guys I'd send money to to pay bills and such in a pinch - not just randos.
This single generation has utterly destroyed the social fabric of America and I have my doubts it can come back.
All I know is that when myself and the closest dozen folks like me I know finally die, there will be no packed church full of people who spent a full life together. It's quite depressing not for that said fact, but because it shows how little "in this shit together" US society is, and what that means for the long term.
If you want to fix this, you have to fix employment.
Your grandfather's generation worked a single job for 30+ years and never moved. That's unheard of in this generation.
You have to break the cycle of forcing people to move in order to have decent employment.
A lot of families were started in areas that were artificially good for their time. Many small-to-medium size towns across the U.S. that once were economically prosperous, but no more. And times were too good to notice. With rose colored glasses, all red flags just look like flags.
Why is the previous organization of society and industry "artificial" instead of what we have now?
I would argue that the current "ship things around the world to save a fraction of a penny" instead of "manufacture locally" is the "artificial" situation.
Our complete inability to adjust manufacturing in a time of great need due to Covid suggests that perhaps our modern organization is actually the wrong organization of industry and society.
Thanks, but no thanks.
I have not experienced it first hand, but my impression is that such long tenures have been underpinned by a social expectations on both sides - that employee will remain with the company for a long time, and that company will in turn heavily invest in new employees and treat experienced ones better than would be expected solely from their "market value".
But as soon as that expectation starts to lessen on one side (say, on employees side), it might necessarily reduce it on the other.
Large parts of our social group were initially met through gaming and we've had examples of all of those things (well, nobody's shed burned down, but...)
I think the issue you're seeing is with the people you gamed with, not the way you met them.
I don't think it's the fault of the video game generation. There is higher volatility in general, which causes people to move around and focus on securing income more than recreation. The post WW2 to 2000 period of the US might have been an atypically stable period lifting everyone up at the same time.
A lot of the poor behavior of this generation is due to the fact that they weren’t given much of an alternative.
This resentment is legitimate. I believe it is more than just the generation that destroyed the fabric. And it not happening only in the US.
But it doesn't mean we don't have our agency about it. Yes, a whole lot of things keep changing in our environment very fast. That's our making because we participate in it. But in that there is a space for us to do the right thing, lead with example, gather those friends that we've lost to mindless internet scrolling for mindful and deep chat, to change our environment that makes cultivating such relationships possible. Let some defect, let some betray, but make a stance with what value you choose to act on.
The fact you are sad about this loss, gives me and I'm sure many others hope that we will eventually figure our way through this. Maybe not soon, maybe not even in our lifetime, but as long as we don't numb our pain or replace the need for genuine connection with addiction, we will find ourselves making steps in the right direction.
Meanwhile the best minds of my generation are figuring out new ways to numb the pain and to replace the need for genuine connection with addiction.
I empathize with the anecdote. The person who moves away that keeps everyone together; that's real. Not everyone has the social presence to pull that off. Communities come and go with those linchpin organizers. Some people can try to be the linchpin, but if the replacement person doesn't have that "it" factor, the community does indeed crumble.
Some of these are really hard to understand when you can't see through the eyes of those that take a different path.
I mean, your comment is great in the sense that many can benefit from following your advice, but there's still much more to the picture. We are still leaving out too many people.
I mean, most often I see my friends online, and they are likely equally or more interesting than my neighbors who I did not choose (but you never know, of course). It also takes less time, and the time is more convenient; if the only option to see my friends were a Saturday 6pm party, I would interact with my friends a whole lot less.
Ball games — well, at least they exercise the body. For that, I can go to a park.
I'm not saying that having online friends is bad, but being friends with your neighbors is a mutually beneficial. Pretty much for the same reasons living in a society is beneficial to all players.
You should really have both.
If I couldn’t spend time shooting the breeze with my actual friends on Discord, maybe I’d be more inclined to spend time with my neighbors. Even if we didn’t really connect a deep level, at least we could converse for a few hours.
I have no interest in that though. I have no need for that kind of interaction. If I want to be social, I can contact people that I feel a deep connection to at any time.
Like Steve Jobs creating a corporate building layout that forced random and disparate people to bump into each other in order to have random conversations and create innovation, friendships of convenience due to geographical realities also enabled for innovation, diversity of thought, and an interesting sense of community in its own way.
My 2 cents
I don't know how to better describe why, other than mentioning Stewart Lee's standup-comedy "Content Provider" sums it up brutally. it is a meta comedy about making comedy content but also about out modern connected life compared to our grandparents.
note: It's not something you'd watch while doing something else. Miss 1 minute and you won't get a 15 minute long bit 20 minutes later. It gets more brilliant with repetitive viewing.
It's pretty widely argued now that we are losing empathy for people who are not just like us because of this.
I don't think this aspect is missed by many people. It's nice if people on your block inspire eachother to keep their place nice, but "keeping up with the Joneses" is widely considered to be a driver of our materialistic & workaholic culture.