Everyone knows about MySpace and Facebook, which have become two of the most ubiquitous social networking sites on the web. But these two big players have smaller competitors - one of which is Meetup.com.
While many Santa Barbarans, such as our local cohort of ninjas, prefer MySpace, Meetup.com is starting to have a local following. There are, for example, 125 members of the Santa Barbara Raw Food Meetup Group, which gets together to discuss and eat raw foods in company with other like-minded folk. According to their Meetup page, they’ve had 65 meetings so far and plan more in the future.
While raw food is, apparently, relatively popular among those who wish to meet up, the real purpose of Meetup.com appears to be to bring together those whose interests are so unbelievably specific, and sometimes odd, that finding fellow enthusiasts would be otherwise challenging. The Santa Barbara Ken Wilber Meetup Group has only eight members, but the group meets regularly. Ken Wilber is an author who has written numerous books on mysticism, new age philosophy, and consciousness, including the ambitiously titled A Theory of Everything. He is also, it seems, the personal idol of at least eight people in the greater Santa Barbara area.
While it may be a little surprising that even eight people are sufficiently enthusiastic about Ken Wilber to meet once a month or more, the Meetup.com groups which appear to be lacking sufficient members to get off the ground are even more odd. While Santa Barbara is full of Democratic Party supporters, only 14 people on Santa Barbara’s Meetup.com site are actively looking for a Barack Obama group, and none have taken the initiative to start one. Ron Paul, on the other hand, has an active group of 101 Meetup supporters, who have already had 55 meetings.
Barack Obama supporters who have not yet been able to get a Meetup group officially started are in good company, however. There are three people looking for flag football groups, eight seeking pet therapy, and one searching for fellow Klingons. There are a total of 23 people looking for a psychic group, although one would think they might be able to find each other without the help of the internet.
All in all, Santa Barbara’s Meetup.com site displays a fairly diverse and interesting cross-section of this city’s population. And, of course, some of them are pretty weird.