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Is the “Social” Missing out of Social Media?

November 29, 2010

Beach with Daddy

Over the last year, what memories cause an impromptu chuckle or headshaking smile?  You  know the one; your head bobs, you close your eyes, and smile, simply recalling the moment.  Now, did this moment involve you and a computer?  An iPhone?  An iPad? 

 No?  It didn’t?  Shocking.  But, not really. 

I bet you envisioned accomplishing an individual goal or possibly, an everyday shared experience like baking apple pies and drinking wine or rebuilding a car engine from scratch or spending a day at the beach with family.

The bottom line is that personal contact and camaraderie are an essential part of what moves us as individuals.  It’s those moments that make us who we are.

I think most would agree, that the older we get, the busier we get, and the harder it gets to keep in touch with friends, let alone make new friends.  I recently moved to Manhattan for graduate school and even in a city of millions, it’s still difficult to meet people.

Difficult, you might ask?  But, what about social media

Well, let’s breakdown my social media options: 

  • Facebook:  Helps reconnect me with old friends.
  • LinkedIn:   Helps grow my professional network.
  • Twitter:  Helps keep me apprised of the latest news and trends.
  • I could continue with Flickr, forums, live chats etc.

 But, what about meeting new friends, in my new city…in person?

 Welcome to Meetup.com  

 Founded in 2001, Meetup.com is a social networking gateway that promotes offline gatherings in local communities around the world.  It lets people with similar interests, no matter how obscure, form groups and get together regularly.  The Internet is a resource for people to find each other, but not the primary channel of communication.  Instead, the platform is to get people off the Internet and into the real-world where they can gather together and improve themselves and the community.  Meetup’s mission is to “revitalize the local community and help people around the world self-organize.” 

 The site is quickly becoming the place for people of all ages and backgrounds to find or form groups, host gatherings and make friends.

 As of today, 11/16/10, Meetup.com boasts some impressive stats:

  • Monthly Visitors:  6 million
  • Members:  7.2 million
  • Monthly Meetups: 250,000
  • Cities: 45,000
  • Meetup Topics: 46,000 

Joining is simple.  You create an account and plug in your zip code.  Then, you can go to town typing in anything that interests you, from wine to yoga to scrabble.  With 46,000 topics worldwide, it’s doubtful that you won’t find at least one group that fits your expectations.  However, if you don’t find a certain group, you can sign up to be notified when one starts up or you can head up the group yourself and the party comes to you.    

Barefoot Runners NYC

Barefoot Runners NYC

NYC is home to five of the ten largest Meetup groups including “#1 NYC Social/Professional Networking” (8,146 members) andManhattan Social Wine Tasting” (5,347 members), as well as smaller more intimate groups like “Concert Goer’s over 30” (147 members),  “Downtown NYC Mom to Be” (31 members) and “Barefoot Runners NYC” (435 members).  There are no rules, per se, but all the groups share one common quality, a warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

This website is for anyone, whether you’re local and looking for new adventures or you just moved to town and are looking for new friends.  Most importantly it gets you off the Internet, out of house and into the real-world.

 In a previous blog entry, I raised the question:  “Does technology connect us or separate us?”  

“The question is not meant to assess the fundamental usage, rather the suggested message, which encourages people to use technology as the primary means for personal connection and interaction, instead of as the complement to connecting and staying connected.” 

 I believe and hope Meetup.com is the platform for the future.  I’m fascinated by technology and its constant improvements, but I also grew up playing cops and robbers and flashlight tag.  As technology advances, people can get caught up in the virtual world. Platforms like Meetup.com provide the perfect balance of both virtual and physical interaction.

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