After 47 years living in Los Angeles with a population density of over 7,500 souls per square mile, then 6 years in the Portland, Oregon metro area with 1500 people per square mile I have arrived in Montgomery county, Arkansas, an area with a whopping 12 people per square mile. Needless to say most people know most everyone else here and although there is a strong sense of live and let live, the gossip mill does run. It is best exemplified by the local paper. In L.A. there are so many people and so much crime that unless shots were fired, a bank robbery will go unreported. In Gresham, Oregon, the police blog ran a list of arrests and property crimes. Here the paper will print your name if you get a $45 ticket for not buckling your seat belt. Not only that but 90% of the county is either related to each other by blood or marriage, or are former school mates, or old friends or neighbors, or all of the above, and they will know that you were ticketed even before the weekly rag is published.
I realize that modern social networking over the internet has vastly increased the amount and speed of information available, no matter how trite or boring, but that is just a mere shadow of how a small county grapevine operates.
For the record I have not received any tickets, nor been pulled over, but I am very cautious. Trust me if I were to wink at a women while walking out of the store, news of the indiscretion would reach home before I did.
There is a silver lining to this however. Any crimes that are committed are solved pretty fast, and although driveways are a half mile apart here, there is a sort of neighborhood watch. That watch includes the mailman, delivery guys, as well as anyone who knows your place and vehicles. Combine that with an almost certainty that the residences of any of these rural places have guns and dogs and burglarizing one of the houses out here is not such a great idea. As I like to say I have 15 acres a shotgun and a shovel.