Friday, February 16, 2007

A few months back I came across a web site called To be honest, I cannot remember exactly how I crossed it's path, but I'm glad I did. It seems to be one of the greatest socializing sites around.

Here is the concept: A person with an interest starts a group. That interest can be anything, from dancing to hiking; movie genre to making your own movie. Once you create the group, it is available for other people who have the same interest to join. In this way, people with similar interests and geographically local can get to know each other.

What makes this better than other social network sites, such as MySpace, is that it is designed to help people new people meet face-to-face. Thats a pretty cool concept for something over the internet (I know, it shouldn't be a new concept, but ...). The organizer of the group will schedule a "meetup" someplace, usually a coffee shop depending on the type of group. People RSVP to the meetup and then show up. Strangers (new members) are almost always warmly welcomed. In the Raleigh-Durham area alone there are over 400 different groups.

As I said, I came across the site several months ago and have joined several groups. The Single Gay Professionals was the first one I joined, and it was also brand new so I've been to all of it's monthly gatherings. Initially I thought the emphasis was on "gay professional" but in reality it is more of a "professionally single" group.

Another group I belong to is the Triangle Hiking and Outdoor Club, which has hiking events during the week and at least 2-4 each weekend. I usually try to get in a hike each weekend at one of the local parks, nature areas, or like this weekend at Duke Forest. With over 1400 members in this group, each hike is generally 10-15 new people that you get to meet.

Last night I attended my first Raleigh-Durham Science Fiction meetup. Since this was my first visit I was not at all prepared for what might be discussed. I scanned my bookshelf and audible library to remind myself of what I've read over the past few years. As it turns out, the discussions were all over the board, although predominately television and film centered. I wish now that I had brought along something to take notes, because there seems to be quite a bit out there that I've been missing!

Also fun is gathering to play boardgames, something I haven't done much of since living in the dorm in my USAF days. The Triangle Games group has something every weekend someplace and I'm learning of new board games I've never heard of before. And of course even more new people!

Of course, not all meetup groups are worth joining. There are several that sound quite interesting to join, but then you look at the details. There might only be 2-3 members total. And/or there have been no meetups scheduled. Although the site does have discussion forums for each group, it is not really designed for that, and can be kludgy to use.

All in all, if you are wanting to meet new people in your area, this might be a good fit for you.

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