The meta-network that’s powering a global membership movementBy Meetup, Inc
Meetup is quite possibly the least hyped but most powerful engine of real-world change on the web: the world’s largest network of local groups, it helps millions of people all over the world connect with others to get things done face to face, offline, in the real world.
The site has 16 million members, in 150,000 groups across 196 countries – and a third of a million events happen monthly.
Founder Scott Heiferman set it up in the wake of 9/11 and after reading Bowling Alone, a book which charts the decline in numbers belonging to membership organisations and the rise in social isolation in modern society.
As he says, ‘On 9/11 and the days after, [I was] having random interactions with people in my apartment building and strangers on the street. People were more friendly. I bought Bowling Alone a few weeks [later] and what stood out was this idea that there are [links] between people interacting with strangers and trust: that if you don’t trust the world around you, it becomes coarser and nastier and less friendly. The book asks what role having an outlet outside of just work and family and friends played in people’s lives, how did it relate to optimism and how did it relate to people feeling like they could be a whole person?’
Heiferman accepts that most of us sign up to his site to achieve simple concrete, real-world goals like losing weight, business networking, training for a marathon or standing up for a cause. But he’ll happily use that as the catalyst for the community interactions he thinks each of us really craves, and for the site to power community change and personal development along the way.
‘Community is a cure for a lot of things in a lot of people’s lives—or it can be. We are on a long-haul mission to spark that and I think that over the course of a generation it’ll become pretty normal that people are collaborating and finding benefits by not being hermetically sealed in their Facebook filter bubble.’ Head organisers pay a subscription fee of $12 a month.
Image 'Denver meetup.com standard poodle club' courtesy of tracy out west
Last updated: 28th of May, 2014