the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Isolation of Urban Life

(from Rear Window)

On Saturday night, I was sitting home doing my laundry.   I was alone.  Wanting some sort of social interaction,  I went online to play backgammon at the MSN Gaming Zone.   Not only do you get to chat as you play, but you sometimes get to play against fellow backgammon enthusiasts from faraway places such as Brazil and Turkey.  The world seems small when you’re playing against someone thousands of miles away (and who might not even speak your language). 

If you don’t know backgammon, when you land on an opponent’s piece, you get to kick it off the board.  The computer application makes a nifty CLICK sound when this occurs. 

As my game continues, I hear another CLICK sound.  What’s going on?  I check my speakers.  Nothing.  I hear another CLICK in the background, the exact same type of CLICK as that coming from my computer, but occurring at a different time.   I look towards the wall behind my couch. 

It’s coming from my next door neighbor’s apartment. 

My neighbor, some guy I sometimes say hello to in the elevator, was also playing backgammon at the MSN Gaming Zone.   We’ve only had one conversation that lasted more than thirty seconds.  It was about the pigeons that sometimes make a racket on our adjoining terraces.   Even though we were both on MSN Gaming Zone at the same time, we were not playing against each other (his CLICKS were not my pieces getting knocked off), but we were both home alone, playing backgammon on our computers. 

If I could hear him, he probably could hear me.  Did either of us think about knocking on the others door and asking if the other wanted to play backgammon face-to-face?  Or how about going out to a bar? 

I thought about it.  I’m sure he did, too.   But it was easier to continue playing backgammon with the guy from Brazil. 

Here’s another tale of the isolation of big city apartment living (from


  1. Wandering Mind

    That’s funny. Now if only those people who do the “amatuer” porn films lived on my street, it might be very interesting indeed.

    Not that I have ever watched that crap, I just have nefarious friends who tell me about it.

  2. Hilary

    Yay! I see you got the recent comment code working properly. Cool.

  3. Neil

    Yes, thanks for your help! You see, with friendly fellow bloggers, urban life isn’t that isolating.

  4. amandarin

    Thanks for the link, Neil. I’m glad you enjoyed my piece as much as I enjoyed yours 🙂

  5. Richard

    I think this backgammon story is a shuck. I think you were both blogging.

  6. Neil

    Didn’t you know? — the perfect way to relax after a day on the computer blogging is sitting down at the computer and playing online backgammon.

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