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Detroitbuzz.com - Meetin.org
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By Andrew Smith

Detroitbuzz.com - Meetin.org

On a suggestion from the beautiful and charming Teri over the holidays, I joined Meetin.org. A social group (not a singles group) that is hell bent on finding, creating, and executing group activities for adventurous professionals looking for things to do and people to do them with. My first outing was a movie night followed by an unplanned dinner at P.F.Changs. Lucky for me, I met most of the attendees at the previously mentioned party thrown by the vivacious Wendy. They already had a taste of my lunacy, and still welcomed me anyway. Who could ever ask for more then that!?!

Night at the Museum was a very entertaining flick, but it was dinner and after dinner coffee that made the night memorable. I was dumbfounded to find people with a similar outlook as mine.

I never felt like I really "fit in". Blame it on the years of religious schooling and upbringing that I internally, no, consciously stopped assimilating back in 5th grade. While others might disagree with that assessment, they really wouldn't know because: as outspoken as I am, I regularly used to bite my tongue and physically have to restrain the desire to roll my eyes, all in the name of "fitting in".

Adulthood came with a gift of choice, and my choice of nonconformity with my indoctrination doesn't sit well with everyone. Most of my religious friends and family often look at me like I'm from another planet. Of course, from their perspective, I am. While many of my motorcycling buddies often wonder what makes me tic, few have ever taken the time ask, in an effort to understand me.

My opinionated views aren't always the most obvious to grasp, and my dedication to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster inspires enough confusion that some people don't even bother trying to figure me out. Which really, is the point. People that aren't curious enough to consider alternate ideas or questions invariably force me to limit my expectations. That, and they bore the shit out of me.

I am of the opinion that if you can't begin to, or are simply unwilling to consider another person's reality because your dogma is so entrenched, acceptance becomes a very rare commodity. Perhaps ultimately: impossible. Sure, people can play lip service to the idea and claim to love everyone. Heck, they even find a bogeyman, infidel, institution, or demon to blame for other peoples lack of conformity with their ideals. By doing so, fundimentalists of any ideology can quickly discount your behaviors and motivations as though they have nothing to do with critical thinking skills.

It's a sad commentary on humanity. Atheists will bash the religious for being brainwashed, and the religious bash the atheist for being controlled by the devil. We watch this melodrama play out daily on any given newscast, be it local, national, or global. We are all guilty. The point of all this is why I enjoyed myself on that first Meetin.org night. I watched differing backgrounds, theologies, and convictions come together to learn about each other, kick back and celebrate diversity. Granted, that sounds like touchy, feel-good, liberal bullshit and it just might be. Everyone digests interaction through their own filter. But it was the candid nature of the topics that revealed to me the genuine interest we share in investigating those filters.

Most of the time, people avoid this concept entirely by flocking to meeting venues where they can expect to find others with similar interests. Church folk go to church socials, Party animals go to bars, Hippies go to Art in the Park and hemp festivals.

Support groups exist for every known affliction, prognosis, and compulsion. They never run out of willing participants. This group however, is drawn together by the premise of simply meeting new people with new perspectives. This is a most welcome change.

Though I never imagined saying this: I found myself really looking forward to the New Years Pajama Party. A funny thing happens when you strip away our daily costumes.

02/26/07