Meetup connects like-minded locals

by Sandra De La Torre

antonio zaragoza, photo editor
Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor

There is a vast assortment of social media platforms available at the disposal of Internet users. However, few have been specifically designed to “use the Internet to get off the Internet.”

Meetup.com does just that.

Created in 2002, the idea for this website was inspired by the events of 9/11. Before that date, cofounder and CEO, Scott Heiferman, noticed there wasn’t much interaction between neighbors and community members in New York City. However, after 9/11, he witnessed a transformation as communication and interaction between members of communities began to increase.

Heiferman, along with Matt Meeker and a small team, wanted to find a way to help people build and organize inner-city relationships. From this basic idea, Meetup was born.

Self-described as “the world’s largest network of local groups,” Meetup aims to help individuals create their own groups or join one of the many already available on the website. The purpose of creating or joining a Meetup group is to interact with others and actually meet them face-to-face.

“(Meetup) is not about finding friends or joining another social media platform,” community development lead Kathryn Fink said.

With more than 92,000 local groups and 90,000 topics to choose from, creating a Meetup group is easy. The website facilitates the process through the various features it provides and the simplicity of customization. Some features include a mailing list, message boards and a group calendar. The site also offers groups the choice to decide how much participation it requires from members, as well as who is allowed to join.

Every group is run by an organizer, a leader who is in charge of the group page and keeps members informed. Though only an email address and password are required to create a Meetup account, organizers must pay organizer fees in order to keep the page running. The fees can range from $12 to $19 a month and are usually split between members of the group.

According to Fink, Meetup is the “best online platform for groups,” because “organizing your group means you’re part of the Meetup ecosystem.”

Once a group is created, it’s promoted within the website to others who are also interested in meeting.

In general, the most popular Meetup groups are those focused on outdoor activities and small businesses. San Diego boasts a diverse range of Meetup groups, with topics ranging from sports to photography, volleyball, wine tasting and dining out.

One group called “Adrenaline Junkies and Risk Takers Anonymous,” is available to all San Diego residents interested in adding a little adventure to their lives. Members of the group have previously met at roller derbies, skydiving spots and rock climbing locations.

Now that meeting up is only a click away, finding locals with common interests has never been easier.

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