A recent post on /. asks quite frankly how a geek goes about getting a social life. This has definitely been a question of mine every time I’ve moved into a new area. Seriously, how does one go about making new friends?
The question asked focuses on geeks, but I think that’s probably the major problem the person is facing. Being social is about interacting with people, not interacting with mirrors of yourself. Of course there must be commonalities in order for things to work out, but there’s more to any geek than a fixation on computers, video games, comics, or anime. Recognize yourself as a well-rounded person and you open yourself to opportunity.
So, after establishing that you’re more than just a geek, where do you go to find people? That’s still the issue, isn’t it?
After dealing with that for years, I only have ideas. There are no solutions. Ideally, after you make a regular habit of spending time in a certain place, you’ll make friends with people who also make a regular habit of being there. That’s why it’s somewhat easy to make friends with co-workers or classmates – familiarity breeds companionship.
Then there’s the internet, which offers so many new and interesting ways of meeting people. My favorite is Meetup.com, which is basically the world wide web equivalent of a school’s club listings. Whether you’re a geek or not, there’s a social group for you – or you can create one (for a monthly fee). The issue beyond that is finding space for meetings and waiting for people to find and join the group. One of the responses to the /. post was a suggestion to seek out hackerspaces, which are gatherings of geeks and people who wish to share and learn skills. I think that’s a brilliant idea and immediately sought local hackerspaces in the Metro Detroit area. Some are vapor, some are still in construction, and they all have membership fees I wish to avoid. They’re still brilliant ideas, nonetheless.
Going back to the original post, there was a request to find members of the opposite sex. This one is really, really easy considering the person asked on the internet – internet dating! I am not ashamed to admit to my involvement in the internet dating scene, which in brief I can describe as exciting and sometimes fruitful. Those who are particular about the types of people they encounter can easily filter out or ignore the choices who don’t seem geeky enough, and those who wish to branch out can definitely find individuals who exist outside of their normal spheres of influence. I’ve also found that these sites can be useful for simply making friends, depending on how obvious your commitment to being’ just friends is. Best picks that I’ve encountered are OKcupid and Plenty of Fish. Depending on how much effort one is willing to make, your mileage may vary. (For tips on wooing geek women, check out this post at The Park Bench. It rings somewhat true.)
The most important thing to note, however, is the success rate of all of these various channels really relies on one simple factor – how much effort you are actually willing to put forth into it. There is no simple and immediate solution, which is what leads to a mess of disappointment from this ADD-raddled instant gratification culture. There will always be difficulties. There will always be disappointments. But if you keep your eyes open and honestly want friends, you’ll be rewarded. It’s always worthwhile to ask for help, but the most important thing is to actually act.
One issue I must bring up, though, is that the person asked for help in meeting people in “meatspace”. That probably belies the deepest issue the individual has in relating to others and the difficulty he may find in forming friendships. Just a thought. Also, Meetspace might be a good name for an internet cafe/coffee shop/bar for geeks, specifically for those meeting for the first time in person.