By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Okay, so it’s freezing outside and you’re probably not going anywhere. But sooner or later, you’re going to get a little squirrely and you’ll need to get out of the house. And hey, I like shopping as much as the next girl, but after a while, the mall just doesn’t cut it.

So what’s a bored, fun-seeking gal supposed to do? And once she figures out what she wants to do, where does she go to do it, and with whom?

The answer? Find a Meetup, of course.

Meetup is a new kind of internet website, designed to help people “use the internet to get off the internet.”


Think about it: How much time do you spend at your computer, especially during the winter? Sure, it’s an amazing tool that can take you around the world, but there’s nothing quite like sharing an activity or a mutual interest with actual humans. Resulting in actual conversation. With actual eye contact. That’s where Meetup comes in., founded in 2007, focuses on building communities based on shared interests among folks who can connect through the internet and then take that connection beyond the walls of their individual homes. Simple translation–maybe you’re a theater geek and your husband would rather have oral surgery than go to a play. Check out and see if there are any theater-loving Meetup groups in your area. Join the group and “Meetup” for a theater outing.

The opportunities to connect with others are myriad and include book clubs, singles groups, outdoor-lovers, business-minded gatherings, bowlers, writers, artists, knitters, parenting groups, animal lovers and on and on and on.

In fact, the only excuse not to join new friends in a Meetup is if a group sharing your interests doesn’t exist–but wait. If you don’t find a group that speaks to your passion, you can become a Meetup organizer and for a small fee, start one yourself. Meetup makes it easy.

To begin, go to and click the “Find” button in the upper left of the page. Then click the “All Meetups” tab for suggested Meetups, input your zip code, the distance you’re willing to travel and you’re good to go. Another click brings you numerous suggestions for existing Meetups in your area.

A little research is in order as groups vary depending on the organizer’s intention. Some have dues, most don’t. All exist with the intention of bringing people together to create community.

Pretty soon, spring will have sprung and the winter blues will be but a memory. But there’s no need to wait for the thermometer to rise to rejoin the human race. Use your computer to “Meetup” with some new friends–the living, breathing kind–and build some community of your own.