the real meetups

Each year at this time my mind leaves our passover seder and briefly sets adrift…. Tonight, as I listened to my father read from his grandmother’s 1923 Haggadah, I heard something new. It was the distant sound of thousands of other passover seders happenign at the same time and, i’m embarrassed to admit, I couldn’t help but think of how similar this was to a successful Meetup night.It reminded me of the feeling we got on a Dean Meetup night when we’d return from a Meetup to a full inbox and hundreds of blog reports about the hundreds of events that had taken place in unison around the world. It’s an empowering feeling for all involved, and successful Meetups today capitalize on that feeling. It’s a sense of unity, of togetherness, and of collective action that has become scarce in today’s world. Some of this “greater-than-oneself-power” is also present at each passover seder. Each year, Jews everywhere participate in this age-old ceremony, eating traditional foods that have been prepared by mothers for hundreds of years to represent various aspects of our ancestors’ struggle and and exodus from Egypt. It’s a simple, but powerful story that gets retold every year at hundreds of thousands of dinner tables — or on wood floors, depending upon one’s situation.Perphas I’m simply talking about the power of religion here to move people to action — not a new concept for most. On Christmas, millions of Christians attend midnight mass and share similiar celebrations with their families. And countless other religions continue to perform their traditions with little prodding and certainly without the use of technology.Maybe I was simply struck by how easy it was for me to become insular and blind to some of the world’s most basic traditions. People have been “meeting up” for centuries, and maybe that’s why this internet tool is so successful. With so much talk about how innovative Meetups are (and it is, as a technology), it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that massess of people have been getting together for centuries at regular intervals and without the use of technology.

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