If I think about my parents’ generation at my age, people were mainly focused on taking care of the family and on their work. They would only socialise with family members, colleagues and neighbours. Their social circle was quite reduced, however the relationship with family and neighbours at the time was closer that it is nowadays in most of the cases. We are many in my generation who live far from our family and the contact with our neighbours is basically reduced to knocking at their doors in order to pick up a package the courier company has left with them since we were not at home.
Social behaviours are changing at a high speed; due to the needs of the international professional world, the number of people who migrate to other countries is rapidly increasing. In some cases they would bring their families along; in others, it would be single people moving abroad. The number of households with single occupants is quickly growing (see an interesting article about this fact: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2014/09/11/growing-number-of-people-living-solo-can-pose-challenges); this social group bring along their own demands of different services to fit their needs.
Human beings are social animals. There are certain moments where everyone experience the necessity to share their feelings with somebody else, to have fun in a group or to practice team sports. We definitely need each other.
This fact can become a problem when arriving for the first time in a new city, often in a different country where you do not know anybody. Someone can like or dislike his or her colleagues, but the truth is that very frequently they already have their own lives well organised and therefore have little time after work to share with newcomers.
Some individuals can also feel lonely when their usual circle of friends start a family, routines change and people become suddenly very busy and often unavailable.
Meetup has arrived to rescue us. It is not just another site to meet people for a drink on Fridays but a way to socialise with others who share similar interests.
The most popular Meetups are of course those to gather in a trendy bar, or to enjoy some wine tasting but there are also other healthier options, like hiking or surfing groups.
For me it was a great discovery to find on this site many groups for those who want to get assistance in their creative endeavours, like writing workshops, film makers’ or painters groups, where all members can get feedback and advice on their pieces. From these Meetups other reduced collaboration groups can also flourish, with the common objective of making a film or doing a photography project, for instance.
It is also possible to practice languages, these groups will meet in a bar where there will be several tables and on each of them they speak a different language. You can rotate and practice some of them in the same evening, if you are polyglot.
There are crazy options for everybody, like these funny groups I found on the web: “Black Sheep Group” “Weird or Wonderful” “The London Unspeakables Quidditch Club” (Apparently liking Harry Potter is not mandatory) “Amsterdam Church for Atheists (+ agnostics+ the rest of us)”
There are groups which help providing a voice to some minorities like this one in Paris “Meet and Map Accessibility-Paris” where citizens review the level of accessibility in a given city helping others to asses which areas have easy access for people with reduced mobility.
What all these groups have in common is that people meet other people. Individuals with whom at least they share an interest. This is already a good start. Some would like to find the love of their lives in one of these groups and of course it can happen but it is not the ultimate goal.
I would not recommend this site for people who seek one-night-stands.
For this particular use there are other apps which everybody knows. I am not saying it cannot happen, of course, anything is possible when two adults consent, but it is not what most of the people have in mind when joining these Meetups.
What I find excellent is that this site has saved to many of us, in our thirties or forties, the trouble of going to bars searching for some human contact when being alone in a new city or when your friends are not available. Moreover, within these groups you don’t feel awkward of showing up alone like it happens in a bar or a party, because that’s the point, people go mostly alone.
Everybody is very keen to start a conversation and it is easy to break the ice. One of the best things of these groups is that if you do not find any affinity with anybody, you can stay for the movie, the match or the hike and then just leave without the obligation of giving your phone number or meeting again. It is difficult though not to find anybody among the group with whom to have a nice chat about something interesting. There is always somebody.
Featured Image: United Colors of Holi by paragpendharkar