Social Networkouts

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Meetups of users of various online communities have been happening for some time now. In just the past 6 years, I’ve met women from a birth club board for lunch playdates, have potluck dinners with people from political sites, teas with online friends from gardening forums and recently met up with FriendFeed users at local burger joint. But you see the problem; it’s all involving food. I’d say that 95% of the meetups I’ve had with people has been surrounding food. ?On one hand, good food and drink are great social lubricators. Beyond the topic discussed on these sites what other conversational ice breaker is there that doesn’t seem awkward and insincere. Recently, I’ve been wondering why there aren’t more meetups of an active sort among these groups.

When you get into the personal realm in these online communities, the topic of weight loss and food issues come up pretty frequently. People share recipes, discuss what they had for dinner or talk about their time at the gym. Yet, when we get together our first thought is what restaurant to meet at or is it a potluck. Why not do something different? Why not make a meetup where we all take a yoga class or just a simple hike in Griffith Park??

At LA Metblogs, Will Campbell organized a day long through LA. I wish I could have made it but either I was busy healing or just busy. This guy Mike organized a walk through LA to celebrate his 10 years as an Angeleno. It became an annual event and last year was the 3rd year of Great LA Walk. The same day as the FriendFeed meetup, the Los Angeles Flickr group organized a photowalk around Union Station. These are all great ways to get some activity in a meetup.?

Many would suggest that I search sites like Active or Gyminee to find people who’d be willing to do an activity. I’ve tried that, but since I’m not active in those communities it’s a bit hard. ?To make it more frustrating for me is that most people who put Los Angeles in their profiles live in OC, the Valley or the west side. ?There’s nothing really local for me here in Northeast Los Angeles. The few people I’ve found in Pasadena put up posts like, “Looking for a partner for quick 10 mile trail run at 5am.” Yeah…10 mile, trail, and 5am effectively exclude me. ?

My logic in wanting to do a meetup around a physical activity has a lot to do with support. Sure, I could find a group to run with on Gyminee, but they don’t “know” me & I don’t know them. I’m sure they’ll be supportive of my efforts, but will they get my sense of humor? What if they all want to talk politics or tech while running? Whereas say I organize a Twitter/FriendFeed meetup, we all know each other from there and the activity will be more focused on fun versus getting mileage in.

Tell me. Am I off-base here or is anyone else interesting in doing something like this? Even if it’s a simple as a hike through Griffith Park ending in a picnic (more food!), that’s still more active than a group of us sitting around chatting…you know, like we do on our computers anyway.

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