Putting my Faith in Meetups and Why I Almost Didn’t

When I moved to the East Bay, I joined a couple meetup sites. I had never used them before. Usually school and work provided enough social fodder for me, and sometimes even more than I could handle. That was, until I moved to the other side of the country, didn’t have a job and the only people I socialized with on a regular basis were my boyfriend’s family and their dogs.

So I joined a couple sites and then utterly failed to use them to my advantage.

Meetup.com, in particular, is a huge meetup site, and yet when I joined a year and half-ish ago, I only found two groups to join. One was for girls who were into geekery, and the other was a fandom meetup for a those interested in certain petite equines. Neither panned out. The geek girl group was always having meetups at in opportune times, like 7PM on Wednesday nights, and the tiny horse fan group members were nothing less than rude. I won’t go into details about them, but let’s just say I now know better about socializing with those too hardcore about minuscule mares.

So I deleted my account and went on with my life. I met new people through jobs I eventually got, my family’s friends, their friends, et cetera. But knowing people doesn’t always equate with having people to go out and do things with, especially in place like the Bay Area, where you can technically live in the same location as someone else, and yet still be pretty far away.

And so a year and a half later, I rejoined. And though there were still very few groups that caught my attention, I didn’t mind – I don’t have the time (or the bandwidth) to attend 10 meetups a week. One or two over a month is really more my speed. Instead, I opted to join a few and see how they played out. This time I found another lady geek meetup, a general geek meetup and a general lady meetup.

By today, I have dropped all but the lady geek meetup. Why? Well, I actually went to one, and it was amazing.

onna otakuBut let’s back up: First, the general lady meetup ended up with too many people. Almost 200 women joined within the first week it opened, and then the first meetup had a ridiculous cap, something like 15 or less people. Not quite what I was expecting. The general geek meetup ended up being too generic, and it looked like they couldn’t decide on what they wanted to be. A book club? Board game nights? Like I don’t do most of that myself anyway, and in more decisive company. Um, usually.

The new lady geek meetup, though, was different. It was much smaller than the first one I joined, and they had meetups every month! And they appeared to be on weekends! Also, there was none of this “it’s easier for everyone to meet in San Francisco” bunk that I see in most meetup groups. No, actually, it’s not. (Especially when you’re more than an hour outside and your only reliable transport is BART, and, I don’t know, you want to meet on Haight Street? Yeah, okay.) They also didn’t have an age cap like many other groups do. No one was “too old” or “too young” for this group, which is refreshing after seeing so many “20-somethings” or “20s and 30s only!!!” groups.

The meetup itself was pretty awesome. Women of all ages, ethnicities and bakgrounds simply getting together and talking about our geek sides. Have you always been a fangirl? What was your first fandom? When did you come in to it, and how? Pre or post internet? Media fandom? Star Trek? Vidding? Fanfiction.net? Anime? Comics? Television? Movies? Science fiction? Sure, why not?

I learned a lot, too, about pre-internet fandom and how things were before the convenience of sites like Meetup and YouTube. I heard about small, fan-run, no-guest cons, and how people made fanvids before the internet – or even computers! And the people there were all very nice and very accepting. We were all in the same metaphorical subculture boat. No one was going to make fun of anyone or shame them for liking something. Well, except maybe Teen Wolf. ;)

Overall, I was really surprised. I never knew going to a meetup would be so fulfilling! And though I think I might have found a good niche, I’m going to do my best to branch out, as well. I was nervous about going to this one, and it was very small and private. I think maybe next I’ll try a bigger group. I know it’s not exactly my thing (as I’ve mentioned), but perhaps I am too worried about what I think will happen, instead of actually letting it happen. Goodness knows it went pretty well this time despite my worries.

And, no – I won’t mention the exact meetup I went to. I think I’ll keep that to myself. But rest assured I’m having a good time.

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