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Where does young hipster Mr. Rogers hang out?
July 20, 2012 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I don't know where to meet people who are smart but not arrogant about it, or smart and also socially functional.

Man, in school I didn't have this problem.

I am a mid-20s woman in NYC. And I have a problem wherein I keep meeting people who fall into one of the following two categories:

They are smart, nice enough, but so socially awkward that I do not have any interest whatsoever in becoming better friends with them or dating them. This is not me hating on nerds, I consider myself a nerd, but good gravy- any meetup that explicitly calls itself 'nerdy' just seems to turn into an orgy of uncomfortable weird internet-based small talk.

Or- and this is a more insidious problem- they are smart, social, normal, cool, interesting... and completely dismissive of people dumber, poorer, or less privileged than they are. I have to say I am constantly surprised by this, because all of my friends in school were extremely open-minded people who went out of their way to understand stuff like the structural causes of racism and poverty, etc. But I just keep meeting people who ought to fucking know better but talk shit about black people or whatever, and act like I'm being naive when I try to counter them. It is infuriating.

So what I want to know is- where can I find people who are
1. intelligent,
2. interested in social justice but NOT the type of die-hard anarchist who is more enamored with their self-image as a revolutionary than with actual issues, and
3. able to carry on a conversation without mumbling and talking about memes?

So far one idea I have is a UU church, though I am not at all religious. Any other ideas?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Attend a Mefite Meetup! New York City has an active and outgoing MeFite crowd.

You can sign up for IRL alerts in your preferences, so you know when the next New York City meetup is occurring.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


NYC MetaFilter meetups! A (well-attended) meetup will be full of bright, socially adjusted people with varied interests and decent attitudes. There's a regular Brooklyn meetup every Weds/Thurs.
posted by griphus at 10:30 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you thought about joining the Park Slope Co-op? I know it's a pain in the ass, but you will meet a huge variety of people who are #1 and #2 and some of them are also #3. Also, looking for a good place to volunteer (though this is hard to find) can cannot you with similar people.
posted by melissam at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2012


Nerdnite?
posted by deanc at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2012


Many moons ago, I helped out on a project that was co-sponsored by The Interfaith Center of New York. The place had a really good vibe and was quite diverse, as you'd expect.

I volunteered for the Boston Catholic Worker soup kitchen/bakery several years back. The live-in community at the time was more like the Buddhist Worker, which was OK by me. If the NYC Catholic Worker community is anything like Boston was at the time I was there, you'll meet some principled, interesting folk of all creeds and colors.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:48 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nthing mefi meetups. I go to San Francisco ones, but if I lived in NYC, I'd go to the NYC ones. I know that sometimes we come off like a-holes here on the internets, but I swear that in person, we are pretty great. I've been to meetups in three or four different cities and never once have I been told my favorite band sucks!
posted by rtha at 10:53 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


By and large, I think that on sports teams you find more socially functional people. And you can find hipsters on sports teams if that's what you like... play kickball or another ironic sport if you want to find the ultra-hipster Mr. Rogers.

But I would suggest Ultimate Frisbee. For some reason that is a mecca of really cool smart people who are probably mostly nerdy in one way or another but not too much.
posted by cairdeas at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


any meetup that explicitly calls itself 'nerdy' just seems to turn into an orgy of uncomfortable weird internet-based small talk.

I'm sad that you've posted this anonymously, because it would helpful if you expanded on this bit a little more, in particular. What constitutes "weird" internet-based small talk, as opposed to the more garden variety sort? Because there are people who regularly have conversations about the internet, and then there are people who talk entirely in 4chan memes, and I'm not sure which end of that spectrum you're referring to.

Mefi meetups and events like Nerdnite are probably the way to go, particularly if you have the patience to sit through some conversations you may be less interested in until you have a chance to get to know the quieter folks in the room in addition to the loudmouth weirdos (like me.) Once you meet one or two people this way, they can introduce you to their own larger circle of friends -- that's how I've met nearly all the people closest to me here in NYC.

Did you by any chance go to school here? Or is there an active alumni community? That might be a good source of potential friendships as well -- it's worked very well from my husband, who went to school in PA but attends occasional "game nights" with other alumni in Manhattan.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:57 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am heavily involved in Metafilter meetups (I generally post and attend every weekly meetup) and I've spent years being on-and-off involved in Young Adults UU groups in the NYC metro area, so if you have any questions about either of these things, let me know. I fit your description pretty well.

The issue with what you're asking is that people who are tolerant tend to be tolerant; that means tolerant of people who are socially awkward, reference memes, or who are weird but harmless. The key is, I think, to try to pick out the one or two people who are less awkward and reach out to them one-on-one. You'll never have a group that is composed of interesting, tolerant, socially-apt people AND that is open to the public.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:27 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Context matters.

I fit pretty much every one of your qualifications (with the exception of not living in NYC). Generally, I have an average sales pipeline width of three women when I date (naturally, this narrows down when I'm looking for a committed relationship), so I assume that I'm fairly datable. However, once a month, I take part in a D&D game. If you were to meet me during one of those D&D nights - talking about steampunk bicycles and the economics of a fantasy world - you would assume I was the biggest dork ever and completely undatable.

Likewise, when you go to "nerd nights" everybody is going to look extremely nerdy to you, because the whole point of the meeting is to indulge in their love of obscure knowledge. If you actually try hang out with some of those "nerds" outside of that context I think you might be surprised at how well-spoken they can be.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:32 AM on July 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I hope I'm not out of line here, but saying this:
so socially awkward that I do not have any interest whatsoever in becoming better friends with them or dating them

sounds exactly like this person:
they are smart, social, normal, cool, interesting... and completely dismissive of people dumber, poorer, or less privileged than they are.

I would say to keep trying different Meetups until you find some you like. Book clubs are often good places to meet smart people who can carry on a conversation. Consider making an additional effort to appreciate people's hobbies, eccentricities and differences as what makes them interesting, rather than the opposite.

I went to an astronomical observatory not long ago, and there were a number of amateur astronomers who brought their own equipment for public visitors to see. Many of the people in attendance (including those amateur astronomers) would fall very far into the first category you described. I found the whole thing fascinating, and really appreciated that people would share their passions and knowledge with us norms.
posted by cnc at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh and the other thing is to give things a few times, go more than once. There's usually a different crowd and you might find that you click with one or two people that weren't there the time before. After all, you're at these meetups but you don't go all the time. There are other people like you that are probably attracted to these meetups as well but you're missing them because you're only giving them one shot.

Good luck! Finding friends is tough.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:49 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hope I'm not out of line here, but saying this:
so socially awkward that I do not have any interest whatsoever in becoming better friends with them or dating them

sounds exactly like this person:
they are smart, social, normal, cool, interesting... and completely dismissive of people dumber, poorer, or less privileged than they are.


Ehh... I actually totally see where you're coming from, but I don't think ragging on awkward nerds is really in the same league as being racist, which is what the OP was talking about.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I like volunteering at 826NYC. Lots of intelligent and literary and artsy types.
posted by mlle valentine at 12:38 PM on July 20, 2012


No, I know exactly what the OP is talking about and could have written the question. Your key word, for finding places to go, should be "progressive" (or "feminist," "anti-racist," whatever), not "smart" or "nerdy."
posted by dekathelon at 12:40 PM on July 20, 2012


I was thinking UU church too. The cool thing is, you don't have to be feeling religious to enjoy a UU service. In my UU church it often helped if you WEREN'T feeling religious because so many of the services were kind of out in left field.

A lot of the folks may be a bit hippy-dippy, but there are bound to be a couple of people you might click with.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:02 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to go to Amnesty International local group meetings (this was in London, bu I'm sure they must exist in New York). There was a diverse mix of people, a generally progressive atmosphere, and it was pretty social as well as organising events, letter writing etc.

Groups vary a lot of course (some seem to skew strongly to retired people for instance) but if you find one with younger people in it could be a good fit.
posted by crocomancer at 1:20 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have the same problem—I like nerdy pursuits but Internet-based meetups explicitly for nerdy pursuits often have at least some people who aren't socially functional.

I would try things that are less targeted at nerdy fun and more at intellectual fun: science, literary, and art groups. Try Science Online NYC if you have an interest in science.
posted by grouse at 1:45 PM on July 20, 2012


I'm a scientist, most everyone I know who works in STEM or policy doing very cool, interesting stuff is a very smart, well informed, tolerant person and not a one self identifies as "nerd". They are typically pretty normal outdoorsy, active, outgoing, beer drinking and having fun types. You'll meet them out climbing or kayaking, hiking in remote corners of the globe, at a show, fishing, working on a campaign or at a backyard bbq but I pretty much guarantee you'll never meet them at a nerdy meetup. Ever.
posted by fshgrl at 1:51 PM on July 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ehh... I actually totally see where you're coming from, but I don't think ragging on awkward nerds is really in the same league as being racist, which is what the OP was talking about.

I think that kind of shifts things, and doesn't really answer the question above the fold.

Which is fair, because the question above the fold doesn't seem like the real question the OP is asking.

It's not about "how can I find smart people who aren't arrogant (judgmental)", because as noted below the fold, the OP is okay with being arrogant or judgmental as long as it falls within certain standards.

The question really seems to be, "How can I find smart people who agree with me politically (about things like "structural causes") and are socially ept?"

From my experience, that is going to be difficult, and I think you need to determine which your priorities are. If your priorities are indeed people who agree with you politically, then you need to go to places where those people congregate: anti-poverty work, anti-racist work, etc. Not all of those people will be smart, or socially competent, however, and it will be a weeding process to find them.
posted by corb at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, also I can recommend the Food and Tech meetup. I go to a lot of tech meetups and also get a bit frustrated with people sometimes, especially since sometimes I'm the only girl and I get well...unwanted attention. But Food + Tech is super awesome and diverse, with tons of people doing all kinds of food tech-related projects ranging from cooking apps to social justice programs.

I also met some cool people on Grubwithus and I was discussing with some people I met there how err.. "uneven" (and I say that as an organizer and still a participant in some select meetups) the people we generally meet through meetup.com are compared to GWU. I think GWU selects for people who will feel comfortable eating a meal and talking with strangers.
posted by melissam at 2:48 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would try Okcupid. I found exactly what you are looking for in Chicago. He is smart and nice but he is not awkward or always talking about memes, but he understands them all so he can explain them to me. Also since he is a active mefite who has in the past gone to metafilter meetups, then you could potentially find someone at the meetups like Brandon mentioned.

The reason I liked online dating is that it allows you to filter all of your interests and figure out if they are a good match, then you get to meet them to see if you mesh well. Plus Okcupid is free and since nerds run the site they have lots of nerdy people on the site. Every person is unique in their own way so you just need to find that unique person that you want and online lets you search through 1000s of people.
posted by Jaelma24 at 8:54 AM on July 21, 2012


What about volunteering with some sort of political or public policy campaign? If you pick the right group and issue, you'll filter for smart people with social skills and an awareness of social issues. And you'll filter out diehard revolutionaries who don't believe in reforming the system. For example, you might look into working with a city council campaign or with, say, a group effort to have the city dedicate more of its transportation funds to street maintenance and garbage / vandalism cleanup in low-income neighborhoods. Not everyone you meet there will be wonderful, of course. But local issue campaigns do seem to attract pragmatic, smart people who believe they can make a difference.
posted by slidell at 9:19 PM on July 21, 2012


1. intelligent,
2. interested in social justice but NOT the type of die-hard anarchist who is more enamored with their self-image as a revolutionary than with actual issues, and
3. able to carry on a conversation without mumbling and talking about memes?


I don't know if a list of qualities is the most helpful approach for you for this project. Everyone thinks they're intelligent, no one who is interested in social justice thinks of themselves as more enamored with their self-image than with actual issues. No one thinks of themselves as a mumbler or meme-dependent for getting by in social situations. I don't know what you mean by these categories so I don't know how to help you find people that fit.

All sorts of people like to do all sorts of things. You just have to do the things you like that involve people and you will meet like-minded people. I like to play soccer and so I play soccer with a group of people and some of them are kind of assholes and some of them I can take or leave but we like to play soccer and we have a good time doing that and it's fine.

Some of them also like to drink beer and play board games and write code, which are other things that I like to do, so those people become my friends. But they might think you mumble and you might think they are too concerned with their revolutionary self-image, you know?
posted by Kwine at 11:42 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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