Sometimes you meet people online and you may never actually see them face-to-face. With Skype and Face Time and online classrooms, this scenario is completely feasible.
But what's super fun about social networking is what can happen after the laptop or the iPad is powered down. The web can be a great way to meet real people with similar interests -- in the real world!
Take for example Meetup. Its whole purpose is to connect people who do or believe or like the same sorts of things. In the Denver area you can find everything from small business groups to wine drinking groups and everything in between. It's free to create a Meetup account and browse for groups that are meeting up near you. Once you're registered on the website, you can RSVP to events and see who else is attending.
Another newish website/app that's gaining momentum is Nextdoor. Check out the neighborhoods in the Denver area to see if there's something happening in your hood. This is an awesome way to connect with the people you see mowing their lawns or walking their dogs, but whom you've never actually hung out with. Plus, it's an easy way to let your neighbors know that you've found a lost cat, or that you're having a yard sale next Saturday. My neighbors are often looking for recommendations for plumbers or auto repair shops on Nextdoor. And sometimes they schedule picnics or garden parties and invite everyone on the site. Another super thing about Nextdoor is that you request to access the site, and a postcard gets sent to you to verify that you do, indeed, live where you say you live. So you can rest assured that your neighbors on Nextdoor are actually your neighbors!
If you're on Facebook and you have a neighborhood association, do a search for the association's name while you're logged into Facebook. Depending on how the page was set up, you can either "like" the page to add posts to your news feed, or you can request permission to join a private group. Even if you don't have a neighborhood association, you might be able to find a nearby community center, church or school on Facebook and stay connected to your real life neighbors that way.
You might also be able to scan the Community section of Craigslist to find a kickball team or running club or volunteer opportunity to try out.
If you're concerned about safety, Craigslist offers some tips and links to great sites with lots of good info. You can check them out here: http://www.craigslist.org/about/safety
Get out there and do stuff -- with people!
This is great, Melanie! I received a Nextdoor postcard a while back, telling me that someone two blocks away had set up a neighborhood site. I was skeptical and then forgot about it. Now that I know it's legit, I'll search out that postcard or just try to sign up.
Thanks for introducing me to Nextdoor. I've enjoyed hiking, participating in a bookclub, and social outings with various groups through Meetup.
Great post, Melanie. We use Nextdoor a lot in Cap Hill for fun things as well as neighborhood alerts. Very useful.