We have gone from a front porch society to a back deck society. When I was a kid it was common to see folks sitting on a front porch happily visiting with one another. Their gathering was visible (and inviting) to all who passed by. Today it is more likely that a group is gathered on a back deck, with a fence blocking them from anyone's view. The front porch suggests community and openness -- come on up and sit a spell. The back deck suggests privacy -- please leave us alone.
This post is not about front porchs being sacroscant or back decks being evil. Rather it's just an observation of how we have changed and what that might say about our thought processes. There is nothing wrong with privacy or back decks, but there is something very good about openness and community that perhaps to a large degree we have lost.