Monday, August 12, 2019

Think We Can Take This Off-Line?

This headline caught my eye last week:

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/8/1/20750047/millennials-poll-loneliness
(click to read the whole article)

That's just under a quarter of 23-38 year olds who say they have zero friends.

OUCH.

The article goes on to say that a whopping 30 percent of millennials say they're lonely; the highest percentage of any generation polled.

I hear these same things every day from perfectly delightful people online, people I'd think would be swamped with friends - though honestly, I struggle with making friends off-line, too.

Online friendships are wonderful - life-saving, even - and I see them blossoming on FOE all the time. Still, you and l know that text on a screen is ultimately not enough. We need eye contact and shared belly laughs and supportive hugs from time to time. We need someone to listen and give us more feedback than a heart emoji on Facebook. We need people who KNOW us, who see us drop spaghetti in our laps and lose our tempers and make mistakes, but who love us all the same. What's more, we need to be that for other someones, too, so we can soak up the joy of loving our fellow humans.

We're in a world that encourages isolation. We stay home because we're tired. We binge Netflix because it's easy. And we avoid people who disagree with us - or who might disagree with us - because we're sick of all the yelling. We tell ourselves we're too socially awkward, too introverted, too "weird" to find new friends. But at what cost? What will it take to get us out of our comfort zones, take a chance, and risk hanging out with people we maybe won't like?

I don't know; I'm out here struggling the same as many of you. What I DO know is there are too many awesome, lonely people out there, and finding them is going to take some work. We have to go places where there are too many people, embrace the awkward, maybe drop some spaghetti in our laps, and overall just TRY.

So hey, tell me this: if there was an Epbot meetup in your area... would you try? Would you go? I don't have any plans in motion or anything, and I'm not sure how the logistics would even work, but I'm curious. 

Better yet, tell me about your ideal geeky friend mixer: the setting, the activities, the one thing that would get you to show up. (Assuming Nathan Fillion is busy that night, of course.)

Also I just spent most of the afternoon writing this instead of working, so if anyone could provide a doctor's note for me to post on Cake Wrecks tomorrow, that'd be awesome. 😝😂

118 comments:

  1. Low key, maybe at a Panera or not-super-crowded coffeeshop, or Dunkin Donuts that sometimes have conference rooms, all without excessive background noise. A chill board game or two available to break the ice. Name tags. Areas for active conversation or a place to sit back and watch. Repeat every week or two weeks and people who click can exchange their information privately.

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  2. I would definitely go to a meetup. There's a number of geek hangouts in my area: board game cafe, geeky bars, etc. It sounds like a great plan.

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  3. Beer and boardgames? Sign me up! Love the suggestions for name tags (I cannot suck enough at remembering names) and the option to be a wallflower...it takes me a while to get comfy and start talking.

    Another fun suggestion (especially for someone like you) would be to have a quick (meaning one or two hour) project/craft class in which folks would make their own cool momento and a fun memory. I love all the superfunhappy things that you and John make. And bonus: working on a craft would be a productive distraction to draw conversation out of shy people like me.

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  4. I'd absolutely love this. Maybe people who know how to do craft stuff can do a walkthrough for those of us who never do craft stuff. I'd also love something Harry Potter themed for grownups. The idea of a chill Panera meetup also sounds lovely.

    I have a lot of wonderful IRL friends, but the way life is structured nowadays, I still feel lonely much of the time. It was a jolt to be thrown out of college, where you could stumble out of your room and bump into a friend a minute, into the adult world, where you're in good shape if you've got a friend date once a week.

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  5. PS -- Richmond, VA should get one!

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    1. Seconded! I mean I'm just outside Richmond, technically...

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    2. I'm less than an hour from Richmond...I'd love to come to a FoE meet-up!

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  6. I'd go. Board games would be fun if everyone was patient with a clueless-but-long-time-wanna-be-gamer. I'd also show up for a "let's all try to follow this Epbot tutorial" activity. :D

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  7. Well, last April I flew all the way across the country (I won a prize for having traveled the furthest) to attend an MST3K film festival in a tiny local theater in Rhode Island.

    It was awesome. Instant friends, because MSTies are the BEST fandom.

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  8. The Utah FoEs have had a few meetups, and they've been delightful! My favorite ones have been incredibly low-key, where we just show up and chat for a bit. Lower attendance is easier, but we did have an incredibly packed one a while back that was delightful, too. :)

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    1. I LOVE out Utah FoE group. We have become irl friends. We look out for each other. But yes, we need an updated visit.

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    2. Man! I currently live in South Dakota, but Utah is my homeland. Reading this makes me all nostalgic for it! And jealous! :)

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  9. Long time fan, first time commenter.

    I love this idea! But for me personally it'd have to be kid friendly. Maybe a separate event for foe's with spawn?

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  10. I would absolutely attend an FoE meetup in my area! I've been here for five years now, and while I have my household and get an acceptable amount of socializing in my life from them, I am acutely aware of the fact that I have no local friends outside these four walls. Making friends is so hard for me now, I'd love to try again.

    And bonus points if it's somewhere that I wouldn't feel overly trapped or self-conscious if I decided I needed to leave. Something like a pavilion in a park, or at a local craft show, something with other things to do. <3

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  11. I would try. Having card or board games available is nice, as it is a nice way to interact while knowing the "rules" of interaction.

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  12. I would go. I like the idea of name tags with pronouns, and also a board game or easy, geeky craft. There is a board game shop in my area that has open tables for meetups.

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  13. Lots of ideas for board games - I want to throw in the idea of having a lot of nerd-themed kids' games - Disney, Harry Potter, etc. They don't take a lot of time/brainpower to learn, most everybody knows and loves the properties, and they're usually light-hearted enough that the competitiveness fades away. I have some pretty great memories of playing Disney Princess Monopoly Junior and Disney Sorry with my old roommates.

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  14. I'd love to, but the only thing that would get me to show up would be having it somewhere kid-friendly.

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  15. I'd go. I've tried using Bumble for making friends, but I'm 42, have younger interests, and don't have kids. Bumble sorts your potential matches by age and most women in my age range on Bumble have kids. I'm not anti-kid, but I don't want to try to build a friendship with someone who's got a priority like a kid, especially young ones, so I've never matched anyone. I also don't feel like I have an affinity for younger people with no children, so it makes meeting friends at meetups kind of the best possible scenario for me.

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    1. Just saying hello as a 41 yo with no children. I completely understand everything you said!

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    2. Me too—41, no kids. High five. It’s tough out there!

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    3. 44 and my kid is grown - same but opposite problem!

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    4. 39, never married, no children (the latter two by choice). I can relate.

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    5. 40, no kids. I have friends with kids, but I'm their friend for the non-kid-friendly activities. It's just hard setting up meetings with new people, because it inevitably turns into "Well, I have to bring my kids, but you won't even notice!" And then the entire focus of the activity changes.

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    6. Same! 42, married, but we have *fur* babies not children. Hubby and I are not anti-kid, but we are childless on purpose. We're both teachers and get more than enough time with kids at work - not how we wish to spend our free time.

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  16. I would love one. I am a huge extrovert, but my anxiety makes it hard for me to make friends with new people. Isolation kills me and I would love to know more weird geeky people irl.

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  17. Yes to name tags with pronouns. A casual meeting space with no-pressure chances to exit, and an easy, silly craft or game. A game store with table space is nice venue. I’ve done meetups at restaurants and juggling everyone’s dietary needs took more time than getting to know one another, and put some people in a tense mood from the outset. Also, can we pretty please have a childfree option? All my respect to the parents here, but the prospect of a meetup with kids gives me more anxiety than the idea of having no friends in the first place!

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  18. I would love a meetup, but I'm 98% sure there isn't anyone within 200 miles of me. I agree with the low-key and kid-friendly sentiments above though.

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    1. Me too Mindy! In fact, it might be more than 200 miles for me. I'll just say it -- I'm in Wyoming!

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    2. I am in South Dakota! So, probably more than 200 miles away, but for out here it's like we're neighbors!

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  19. Authorization for Sick Leave
    August 12, 2019

    To Whom it May Concern:
    Please excuse Jen, First of Her Name, Queen of the Epbots, Wrecker of Cakes and Friender of FoEs, from her blogging duties on August 13, 2019. She is serving as a caretaker for family members, specifically 22-30% of the world's Millennials, who are suffering from isolation and loneliness.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. OnyxBird, PhD*

    *You didn't say it had to be a *medical* doctor, right? ;-p

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  20. I've met and made friends with people I met via FoE. Some of us meet up regularly and some of us get together individually for going out and doing things. It is great.

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  21. Yes, I would go! Having retired early means all my friends are still working. Also, none of my friends are readers (gasp). I love board games and have no one to play them with. A board game get together would be cool. I'll bring Pente!

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  22. There isn't enough time to put together a meetup at the next RiffTrax Live show (this Thursday), but maybe next year when the guys post the schedule? Depending on which movies they pick for the 2020 live shows, of course.

    Munchkin probably isn't a good pick for a meetup game night, but I can bring Pandemic: The Cure -- it's faster-playing than the original Pandemic.

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  23. So here's my personal take on online friends vs in-person friends. They are all friends. And online friends can become in person friends. In person friends who move far away can be right there electronically. And online platforms can make a huge difference in the lives of folks who have trouble getting out there and meeting people. They have made a major difference in mine. I started out on a platform called Second Life, in a community of folks who loved Victorian Steampunk (shout out to the Micronation of Caledon!) Folks from all over the world getting together to build things, organize social events, raise money for charities, and participate in a lot of steam-powered silliness. And I saw folks who never considered themselves computer literate learn to build content in 3D, folks who were socially awkward (hello!) blossom and become event coordinators and patrons of the arts. And friends that were made there moved from the computer offline. I met a gentleman there who was as surprised as I was to discover he was courting me. We are about to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I have been able to meet many of my dear friends from SL in person who were on the west coast. Many more who are now friends on Facebook, or other platforms. Friends who live nearby, friends who come into town to visit when they can, friends I stop and see if I am passing through. I have met other friends through them, some of whom I have met. I have discovered artists and authors who live nearby via social media platforms and been able to make a social connection - and I was fortunate enough to discover FOE. You folks have started something that is making a huge difference in the offline lives of so many people, in just the same way. Literally thousands of people. You have changed a lot of lives for the better, and helped lots of people reach out and meet other folks who share their geekery, humor, and fandoms.

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  24. Me. Me me me. You just said everything that’s happening to me right now. I know my anxiety, which has been more acute of late, is fueled by my isolation. But it’s so exhausting to even think about trying to find people I want to spend time with. I would LOVE a meetup! Boardgames, geeky movies, or anything that promotes belly laughs, which I need so much that I teared up when you mentioned it. Thanks, Jen. I needed to feel less alone, even if it’s just on the internet tonight.

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  25. Interestingly enough, YOU are the reason behind three of my really good friendships in the last five years. Initially through Cakewrecks. A co-worker shared a link on my facebook, suggesting that I would LOVE your sense of humor. This opened me up to finding out more about her and her fandoms, which included DR. WHO. We were at a church service (which is our workplace, but this was offtime) and discussing Rose and 10. The worship leader at the time heard us and told us how much she LOVED being a Whovian. We immediately recognized a kindred spirit. She later encouraged me to start reading EPBOT! Because we wanted to meet you, she and I went to our FIRST EVER Con (Megacon). We loved it so much, we decided to attend the NEXT year and because you encouraged us, we both decided to Cosplay. When I found out that David Tennant was going to be in attendance, I made sure to invite my two friends. Another woman that we work with at the church mentioned to me that she had heard that David was going to be at the con and was REALLY thinking about going. Because my photo-op allowed for four people, I encouraged her to come with us. We all went this last May, had a BLAST, and now meet up as we can to discuss all things geeky (and try to play Wizards Unite). THANK YOU for your writing and stressing and putting yourself out there.
    Plus, if there were to be a meet up of Central Florida FOE I'd DEFINITELY attend.

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  26. I would absolutely LOVE a get together! I realize that I don't live in a hotbed of activity, but I'm close enough. Yes to name tags (although MY name has always been an issue) and double yes to a fun activity to break the ice without pressure. Games, crafts, what-have-you.

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  27. I'd definitely do a meet up. Trivia is a fun way to meet people for the first time as it is casual yet structured. And everyone ends up having some odd knowledge you might not expect

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  28. My therapist (that I saw once) said I needed to make friends offline. I haven't gone back to him because I said I'd try but had no idea where to start. I'd love to meet some of the FOE community.

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  29. Another possible meetup space could be reserving a public library meetting/conference/event room!

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    1. Leah in WilliamsburgAugust 12, 2019 at 10:53 PM

      I like this idea. Coffeeshops/restaurants are often noisy and crowded. Library and boardgames is more my speed.

      My church recently did a gathering where people were supposed to bring their own crafts. It could be something we're currently working on or something we've completed and want to show off. That worked well and didn't require a lot of organization. It was fun to see what everyone was making.

      Although I would go to a local meetup, I'm not in FoE so I probably wouldn't hear about one if it were happening. :(

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  30. I would maybe try to go to a local meetup for FoE.

    What gets me out of the house are the regular (weekly, for us, or it starts to fall apart) RPG nights I have with my post-college friends, and the occasional board-gaming days with the college gang (we graduated 10 years ago (eek!) but live close enough we can usually get a few people whose schedules work.)

    But most of my friends are either people from college, or people I met because of those people. If I had to meet wholly new people I dunno what I would do.

    If gaming is anyone else's jam, many friendly local game stores are happy to point you to groups of people playing RPGs or board games, and most of the ones in my area host board game nights, so that might be a place to start for people looking for irl human contact!

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  31. Depending on location - I'd love to attend a local meetup! I'm not a Millennial :P but I still struggle sometimes with social anxiety and I think it's a great idea!!

    I had to push myself to join a women's social club (Red Hat Society) - and I had to go alone because none of my existing RL friends would come. But it was the best thing I've ever done! I made so many new friends it was great.

    If designing a meetup for socially nervous people, I think it would be good to have things that might make people more comfortable.

    I know for myself if I'm already on the fence about going to something, the more difficult I think it might be, the more I talk myself out of going. I assume some others would be the same.

    I know food always becomes a problem, but a cafe/restaurant or something is a good setting where people should feel safe and it would have tables and drinks. I'd suggest avoiding meals (which means avoiding food issues and money issues) by making it a morning time, that way people can come in for a coffee/etc and leave if they want - and anyone who is able to and wants to can stay on (or go somewhere else together) for lunch. That should take some pressure off.

    I think the boardgame idea is great!! as it's a way for people to interact who are too shy to actually sit around and chat. There can also be crafty stuff too.

    Nametags are useful - can someone arty maybe design one (with the Epbot logo maybe) that can be printed out and we add our names - so we're not only nametagged but also visually identifyable for added peace of mind that yes these nametagged strangers are your people :D ... People can print them on normal paper and pin them on, or use sticker paper, or those plastic whatsits - whatever they like.

    I'd also suggest that some sort of sign on the table (even just a folded piece of paper) that can say something like "FOE gathering - welcome!" or something... so again those who are doing that "is that group there the people I'm after?" have an easy way to recognise that's the right group as soon as they walk in.

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  32. Also check with your local library to see if they are offering a class or get-together where you can meet ppl who share your interest. I know my local libraries host stitch and bitches (yarn group) that welcomes all.

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  33. Definitely, my "mom friends" aren't into anything geeky or silly. My daughter is 16 and I just recently became a widow. Between work and my daughter I keep busy now but I want to start finding in person friends for when she leaves for school. As a program planner, I'd even help with setting one up locally!

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  34. For those folks on fb, there are many local FoE community groups. In the mothership (main group),use the "search this group" option on the left side and type "FoE group". If you can't find anything, just post and ask for your area. There are several long threads with lists for activity oriented ones as well as local meet ups groups. Currently there isn't a list available, but maybe the mods would be open to it.

    I may just work up the courage to see about hosting a local table top gaming afternoon for Seattle area FoEs.

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  35. I would LOVE this. A few FOEs in my area have met up but I haven't been able to go yet. I think like a nerd trivia night would be sooo fun! Or an intro to TTRPGs with non-stressful people. I'm always scared to go to those since I wouldn't know who was going to be there.

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  36. We started a regional Southern Ontario FoE group about 2.5 years ago and of the original dozen, we're still, all of us except one, going strong. We've added lots of members since then. In fact, we just had a fabulous four day girls weekend at a rented cottage and the support, camaraderie, laughter and love in that building were off the charts.
    We met for the first time for lunch at a restaurant, then moved to a rented room at a community centre where we played and learned board games, crafted, coloured and chatted each others ears off getting to know one another. The second meetup was at a board game cafe. We've done escape rooms, seen theatre productions, painted clay, eaten sushi (all the sushi!), gone thrift shopping, gone Harry Potter shopping. The list goes on. And we've increased our IRL friendships exponentially. It can and does work, my fellow FoEs. And it's amazing.

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  37. Everything you have written is everything that i have been dealing with. I have so much anxiety i can't go up to any one i don't know without shaking .I'm 20 years old and i feel like i don't really have anyone to talk to or just have old fashioned fun with. Im apart of the FB group but I have no guts to post anything or comment on someone else posts. I would love to meet a fellow foe someday or just someone to geek out/have a meaningfully conversation with. Even if its a one time thing.

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  38. I just read about this today, and it seems like the best kind of "book club" for an introvert like me https://www.npr.org/2019/08/12/740897970/a-novel-concept-silent-book-clubs-offer-introverts-a-space-to-socialize

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    1. I read that NPR article too and it sprung to mind while reading this. It's an interesting concept that could work well, I think.

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    2. If this was happening near me, I'd go. I'm in Southern California. Reminds me a bit of Don Tillman's bar in the last of the Rosie books...

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  39. I'd totally go to a meetup. Sadly, I live in a rural area and there aren't a lot of people around to have a meet up with. I've even checked meetup.com to see if there was a group I might want to join. The closest one was an hour away.

    What I do try to do is have friends over to my home regularly. The never reciprocate, but I don't mind being the friend who has the party. I like hosting in my home and they don't care that my house isn't perfect. I keep it small, just a handful of friends at a time. We have dinner (often pot luck), we visit, sometimes we play games. I do it about four times a year and I can always feel when it's time for another one. I'm feeling the itch right now actually.

    We also started a monthly game night with a couple of other families. We rotate hosts and do a pot luck dinner and take a break over the summer. Everyone has a good time and it gets that friend time in.

    I've found that most people are just waiting for someone to step up and make it happen. To host. To set the date. To make the little push to make it happen.

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  40. I'm someone who likes people as a concept, but then I have the whole "buckets of sweat and racing heartbeat" whenever I need to be among more than the small intimate crew I've been watching movies with and/or driving around to random bbq joints with. As a non-driver, meetups might be difficult for me, since there's really nowhere near me (within walking distance) that could facilitate something like that... unless the local library were to be cool about it. Actually, I'd love to hang out with people in my library's shockingly well-appointed basement!

    For those with mobility issues (no car, cannot travel, bedridden, etc) maybe some kind of group voice/video chat could be arranged? That could help people feel less lonely and is cheaper than bus fare? I handle video chat so much better than calling or face-to-face that it's not even funny!

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  41. That could be fun! Usually whatever social energy not used up by my kids and my family
    goes to my church peeps. I love them all, but every year there are fewer and fewer people my age there, so it gets a little lonely not having people who are at a similar life stage.

    Hey, wild question: do they have friending apps? Like platonic tinder lol?

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  42. Oof. Yeah, I know this on a fundamental level.
    I HAVE friends. They're just... Not around. They've moved away. They have jobs. They have kids. They're too busy for hanging out. Getting together with one is difficult, while organizing two is impossible.
    And it hurts. With my family distant, and friends unavailable, there's no emotional contact or support. No shoulders to cry on. Nobody to smile when things go well. I'm all alone, and it really sucks.

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    1. I so feel this. My friends are getting old(er) and were long distance to begin with. But they live in distant (well, 5-12 hours away) cities, and I'm older too and the drive just isn't easy or safe most of the time since I'm just flat tired from work and weekends spent caring for an ailing parent. I can go weeks without talking to anyone but work associates or family members (there are 5 of us, I live an 1 1/2 hours away from everyone else). I like the idea of a meetup, but I know that I'm unlikely to show. My introvert tendencies have really grown in the year I've spent without outside contact.

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    2. I completely understand. I have lots of friends who all would say they're there for me if I need it. Except they're never actually there. They have their own priorities, and while I can't begrudge that, I really wish I could be a priority sometimes too.

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  43. I would be interested because I would like to make friends but my issue is that I'm a shy introvert who stresses over making the wrong impression and end up making no impression what so ever. It usually takes me a few meetings to start getting comfortable enough to stop worrying about it. Regular meet ups might help, but I'll probably always feel like that outsider trespassing who doesn't really belong and is only tolerated cos people don't want to be mean.

    Brain is dumb about this. I manage to ignore it for work, but it definitely starts to rear its head whenever I interact with strangers I want to impress/like. The con I went to this weekend was exhausting, hah.

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    1. "always feel like that outsider trespassing who doesn't really belong and is only tolerated cos people don't want to be mean."

      Oh wow... such much THIS. That's what I'm fighting in my brain every. single. time.

      I would love to have a FoE meetup, but I agree with so many others that there would probably have to be some kind of organized activity in order to get over that anxiety of milling around a crowd of (unknown) people trying to strike up conversations.

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  44. Don’t think my other comment got posted. As a shy introvert, who has really few friends and no bestie, I would love to go to a meetup! The only issue is that it would have to be in Norway, specifically in the Stavanger area. If there are any FoEs around here, please let me know! I don’t have Facebook, but my username on Twitter and Instagram is CosmoDings :). Vi kan også ta det på norsk ;).

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  45. I'm not a millennial but since my partner passed away I have trouble getting out of the house and would love to meet my people, somewhere! I think a meet up is a great idea, along with all the other great ideas expressed here; i.e., the Epbot logo nametags, board/card games, not necessarily food, but coffee/drinks. A lot of libraries have conference rooms that usually are free to schedule...I don't have twitter but do have facebook and belong to the FOE group, if we all said where we are from then maybe we could match with others in our area..? Just a thought..

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    1. On a side note, is anyone going to Aethertopia on the 8/24?

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  46. I'd love to come to a meetup, primary requirement for me is being close enough to one to get there! Thirding the idea of a library or community center or event room. Love the idea of bring your own crafts. I know the folks at Captain Awkward run regular meetups, maybe there's some ideas there for what works.

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  47. This is something I love about Twitch. We create a sense of community around the channels we watch, hanging out in chat, and talking on Discord when the streamer is offline. We stay connected and become friends, and then we get excited to meet IRL at conventions. I'm going to PAX West at the end of the month and seeing friends I've never met or have only seen a couple times. I've had a standing coffee date for over a year with someone who lives in a different state, and we're finally having it in Seattle!
    But, honestly, while human interaction is important, your needs vary. I work 40 hours, am married, and see my parents on the weekends. That's really enough for me. My IRL friends and I don't hang out (on purpose) and when we do see each other they know not to touch me. There are only 3 people allowed to hug me.

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  48. Oooh, the Texas group is actually pretty active! We just had a meetup in Fort Worth last month, there's a meetup in Houston this month, and I think there was one in Austin not too long ago too.

    It seems I've become the unofficial organizer of the DFW meetups. I planned the Fort Worth meetup and now there's a big group gathering to hold signs and stuff for my first half marathon in November. Nothing like a big life event to bring people together.

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  49. If there's a game shop in the area, try to coordinate with them! Local businesses would enjoy the support. In my town, the game store puts on several events, including D&D 4 nights a week, and they rent out their game room. On Mondays they gave board game night where you can bring your own or just show up and play the store's collection. It's super low-key but anybody can jump in and join. I've made a couple friends that way, including the store's owners! :) So hosting a meetup at something local like that would be a great way for the people who live there or near there to continue having a place to go.

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  50. I’m not a millennial (Gen-X), am an empty nester and newly located to Central Florida and the few meat-life friends I had are now virtual. The loneliness is real. Love the idea of a coffee shop meetup.

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    1. The Central Florida FoEs spinoff group on Facebook is very active and full of welcoming people of all ages, and we try to meet up in person regularly. Please join us if you feel comfortable doing so!

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  51. Something with an active activity so you don't feel stressed abou making conversation. Maybe going to a bar or restaurant with old arcade games on a weeknight when it's not busy.

    I'm in Dallas btw

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  52. Community theater SAVED ME when it came to making friends offline.

    And you don't have to be an onstage person, there's lights, sounds, costumes, sets to build, you name it. (Perfect for us geeky, costumey, crafty folk who prefer hiding in the shadows).

    A few years ago, that survey would have been me to a T, but now, 3 years post theater, I have so many wonderful vibrant friendships, and we do so many wonderful things all the time, I almost don't have time for the theater anymore!
    (...I said almost. The stage gets into your blood. You've been warned.)

    But honestly, the people I've met, they are like my family, now. My life is rich, and incredible, and I'm so glad I used my 10 seconds of courage to step into that world and auditioned for my first show post high school. (7 year gap. I was terrified. But OH MAN was it worth it. )

    Changed my life, in every sense of the word, very much for the better.

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  53. Theater, food tours, craft activities and potluck dinners all work. Try a dog show to meet people. Find an interest then a class and TALK to people. They really don't bite the first time you meet them.

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  54. I totally would! In fact, I have. A few of us Michigan-based FoEs met up at an Ann Arbor comic arts festival last year, it was a fun day! I've also hung out several times with a FoE from Canada when she comes into Detroit for one reason or another. I also met up down in Orelando a few years ago and met you and John down at Disney Springs along with other bots. They were all great, and I recommend doing it!

    Aside from these meet ups I make a point of going to group fitness classes twice a week. Sure I have gym memberships, but my husband and I never talk to others at the gym, its early and we're there to put work in and go home. I like the group classes, they're never going to be best friends but it's nice to talk to people for a little bit before and after class. I also joined the local books & brew club that meets once a month at a brewery nearby. (In fact I'm going tonight!). I work from home so it's extra important for me, even as an introvert, to make sure I get out and actually see people sometimes.

    Last year we even made two new groups of couple friends by going to events that just sounded fun. One was a bat talk at a brewery where you could pay for a VIP and get a bat selfie, and the other was at the same brewery to do a yoga & dinner event. I wore my geeky work out clothes and another geek couple noticed and started talking to us. We just went to their wedding this year!

    My suggestion is to find things nearby that sound interesting, and be open to talking to people!

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  55. If there was a meetup in Orlando I would go! I have had a terrible time making friends as an adult, especially in a new city.

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  56. I would host a board game night at my local game store for FoE if anyone was interested. I'm on the west side of Portland, OR (the game store is Rainy Day Games). Would anyone be up for such a thing?

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  57. I like the idea of a beer and board games meet-up with folks. :)
    It'd be really interesting to get a map set up so we can put "pins" in and share where we are all from :)

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    1. There used to be a map you could add yourself to in the FoE (Fans of Epbot) facebook group before I left facebook, might still. But that group cycles so quickly it's easy to miss something like that =)

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  58. I have friends, but I find it hard to get together with them, between kids (theirs), travel, family obligations, distance, etc., etc. So I wouldn't call myself lonely, but I definitely don't see my friends as much as I wish I did.

    Side note, Jen, I want to gently push back on the idea that avoiding people we disagree with is bad. I have no problem with people who prefer Pepsi to Coke or hate the color yellow or don't like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But if someone disagrees with the right of same-sex couples to get married, or asylum seekers to be treated with humanity, or people of color to exist, well, there's no amount of geeky board games that will fix that.

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  59. I moved to Florida about 2 years before FoE became a thing, and meeting up with FoEs in real life has been one of the best things about living here. Personally, the big organized meetups have always been a little daunting. I have a lot of kids and I often feel like other adults aren't welcoming of my whole crowd (or prepared for them at any rate!) if I were to try to bring the whole family to a meetup at a restaurant or similar. And getting out on my own is equally difficult. But! But! BUT! Casual meetups with other FoE parents and families at a local park has slowly turned into several of us getting together for cookouts or game nights or trivia, and still meeting up at parks to let our little FoEs in Training run amok. I have friends here, in this place where I knew zero people 6 years ago!

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  60. I think a good idea would perhaps be a crafting EPBOT meet up in different areas. I've been to some hang outs with my "in person" friends where we bring whatever we are working on and just sit together (mostly in silence) and work on that thing. Sometimes one person is working on remote work, I'm doing online school, and a third is playing videogames. We don't necessarily talk much but we enjoy a comfy couch or group of chairs, drink, and food and nobody has to feel like they have to talk or share or whatever. It has worked pretty good when we invite new people into the friend group because you can bring whatever thing you enjoy doing and just do it.

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  61. hi! Long time reader/fan, first time commenting...I think. I would LOVE a meetup! I'm always looking to have a game night but most of my real life friends aren't into that! I'm in Birmingham, AL. Anyone else?

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    1. Whaaaat! Somebody from my city! We should absolutely start something! Unfortunately, I go to school out of state but I'm a bham girl.

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  62. PLEASE. Epbot meetup of any kind would be interesting to me. I am as nerdy and lonely as I gets and I always feel like these are my people, but actually meeting up with anyone can be quite difficult. So yes, please, in any context - epbot meetup.

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  63. Our Southern Ontario FoE group meets regularly. Sometimes just a couple of people, sometimes the whole lot of us. We actually just rented a cottage together for a long weekend a couple of weeks ago and it was the best thing ever. Meeting these people in person was the best thing I've ever done. I consider them all friends and love them all for the people they are, spaghetti in their laps and everything.

    If there were a larger Epbot meetup, I guarantee you that our lot would come en mass. Careful what you wish for. ;-)

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  64. I'd love to come to something. I'd also second making it crafty.

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  65. Yes I'd love to go to a nearby Epbot meetup! (Indianapolis IN area for us) I met one of my best local friends through FoE when looking for gamers after moving to a new city. With kids and school schedules anything is difficult, but I'd try to make it! Kid friendly is a bonus, since I have three geeklings, but I can get out without them sometimes thanks to now having grandparents live close. Crafty and with nametags both great ideas.

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  66. I like the idea of bringing your own craft or even a book (preferably physical, so others can see what you're reading). I find it easier to converse when there's something to do / focus on.

    I'd think a game would be hard because some people would already be good at it and those who aren't might struggle to catch up. And I've been in a game situation that I trying to learn, and it was a big turn-off when my friend expected to win / gloated.

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  67. My husband and I would happily be in if there was a group of FOEs in the Portland (Oregon) area that wanted to meet up every once in a while. We love games and crafty geekery. We have a 13 year old geekling. She would be excited to participate as well if there was a kidbot gathering. Any other Oregonians out there?

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  68. Thanks to Epbot and Fans of Epbot I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I have gone to FoE meet ups, been to a local board game night and found this fabulous introverts crafting group, which has eveloved into a fantastic group of friends, which was something I was needing, especially after after ending a 20 year friendship. I am a much happier person and I'm so glad I found this group.

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  69. I would love a meetup!! Either local or larger. I'm Twin Cities so I'd organize a local one here if there already isn't one!

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  70. I would be so interested. I was just thinking about this the other day. Would love to set something up in New York.

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  71. Something that has a specific blueprint. I need to have a plan with details and know what to expect so that I’m not so anxious I just stay home

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  72. YES YES I would TOTALLY go to an Epbot meetup in my area and I'm not a Millinial!

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  73. I would definitely go to a meet up!

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  74. Sure, I'd attend one. I'd rather it be a place without a lot of other people, ie I wouldn't like to meet up as say Disney Land, lol, but a bookstore/coffee place would be nice.

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  75. Hey, I haven't been active on FOE, because I don't really like Facebook. But I LOVE Epbot and Cake Wrecks, and I love seeing all the fun, crafty, and geeky things Jen and the FoE members come up with. I am in Aiken, South Carolina, and would LOVE to go to a get-together for Epbot fans! I'd even be willing to try to set something up.

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  76. When I was young (25 years ago), I dated a creep who ended up stalking me. It makes me sad that I still have to live cautiously - for example, no internet friends (what if they're him using a fake name / photo???). I keep considering joining you all, but I can't expose my (very unusual name) and open myself up to being found.

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    1. Not to make light of your fears, but there's an easy solution: create an online persona. You're worried about him using a fake name/photo? Why not use a fake name and photo yourself? It's exceptionally common online; heck, do you think my name is actually Robin Bobcat?
      Make all the friends, talk with them, even meet up in real life of you're up for it. None of them need know your real name.
      I encourage you to not let that creep rule your life. Don't let him win. The best form of revenge is success, and if you do an end run around your former creeper, then you win.

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    2. I feel you friend. My solution was to use the internet to find out where my stalker was and after a little while (read 10 years) i felt safe enough to go on-line, knowing that he was several states away. Also, i use my first name, but a different last name. Mayhaps you could adopt a nom de plume for internet friends. Think of it as a new identity away from the yuck of your past. Good luck.

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  77. Yes, I'd definitely give it a shot. The article Jen linked to is me to a T. I'm 38 and would say I have no friends. I realized the other day that seeing my hairdresser and my physical therapist are the only times I get to talk to people who aren't my husband. Working at home full time doesn't give me much of a chance to even talk to my coworkers. I'll try joining the Facebook group. I saw someone say that the DFW group is pretty active; I wonder if there's folks out here in East Texas looking for friends.

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  78. I'm in BC Canada and I'd love an epbot meetup - I actually tried to organise one through FoE but nothing came of it. I love online friends, but it'd be great to have people to just go to a movie with, or even just hang out crafting and watching old friends episodes. Being a grown up can be tough.

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  79. I would go to a meetup. I have a few adult friends with similar interests, but they have moved so they are internet buddies now. Meeting someone local could be really cool.

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  80. I would love to meet some folks, but as someone said upstream I live fairly rural. My husband retired from the military last year, so our friends are scattered across the globe and our families are 2 hours north or 2 hour south of us. You would think I’d be used to making new friends, but I’ve always done it in the context of a military base where we live a type of Mayberry existence. This is the first time that I haven’t had someone to put down for the “emergency contact” information (even if it was just the neighbor I met the night before). It has been difficult and it looks like it won’t get easier for awhile. Luckily I DO have lots of people online I can talk to (thank goodness) even if many of them are on a completely different day cycle from me (I’m looking at you England).

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  81. I would certainly try to come to an Epbot meet-up here in the Baltimore-DC Metroplex.
    And a fun geeky mixer only needs 3 words: alcohol, snacks and Charades!

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  83. I like the idea of an Epbot meetup, since conversations so far with other FoEs are "serial." Being able to reach the meet-up is one of the main issues, if not the main one. Transport is an issue for me, since I don't (can't) drive a car. I also like to "plan" my social times, so learning of an event far enough in advance helps. Arts and crafts, including tutorials ans spaces for making things (learning to make things, bringing your own materials, contributing materials for all to use) would be important.

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  84. I'd maybe consider attending a meetup, if it was at a public location that I could easily leave if I was uncomfortable, & if there was something to focus on that wasn't one of the attendees... I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't like being the center of attention, & I find it much easier to talk to new people if we're discussing something like an exhibit.

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  85. I haven't been active on FoE (just haven't had the brain space) but I will tell you what has worked for me for IRL meetups. A couple friends and I started a "knitting" group, initially to knit for a social cause, that has morphed into a friends group - I think 2 of us actively knit; of the others, some crochet, some paper craft, some just drink coffee. Each of us has invited a few other friends, and I have met some wonderful people who I now call friends. We meet weekly during the workday because that's what works for us, but there's never any pressure if you have to miss, if you don't craft (or just don't feel like it that day), if you never host (we found coffee shops too loud, but YMMV).

    The crafting gives some of us something to do with our hands. We have a set day of the week we meet which means most of us can treat it as an appointment and schedule around it, not try to schedule it into a packed calendar. We take turns (informally) bringing snacks, so no one feels burdened. No kids, but most of ours are older anyway and the college-age ones are welcome if they're home. So my suggestion would be to pick a day that works for MOST people (it will never work for everyone all the time) and be willing to carry on even if only one or two can show up sometimes.

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  86. So I would totally try to get together! The kid issue is real (from both sides, with and without). If you get a place that has multiple rooms, you can maybe enlist older kids to keep an eye on younger ones while they watch a movie, or eat, or something.

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  87. I'm all for crafting, coffee and board games for a meet up. :D Or meeting at the local arcade bar, which I have yet to visit. My biggest problem with an Epbot meetup is that I don't think there are a lot of us around here. I'm pretty sure one of my old friends from high school is a fan, but that's all I know of.

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  88. I'd love to meet up but I doubt there are many of you in my corner of England... KT postcode anyone?

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  89. Southern Maine FOE here ... and I would totally go to a meetup. Or host one, with crafts and snacks.

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