How can I find geek friends in a small, rural town?
June 4, 2010 9:03 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I moved small, rural town of 10,000 about a year ago. I've yet to meet a single local geek. Tell me how to meet them!

My wife's job required us to move about a year ago to small, rural town of 10,000 (the entire county has a population of 25,000). Though we've gotten to know some great people through her job, I've yet to meet a single local geek.

My only small town experience was the town where I went to college, but this town is no college town: the town's main industries are timber and a distribution center for a retailer. There are very few young professionals in town. Most young people with the talent or ambition to leave town do so. The nearest "city" of 80,000 is an hour away.

I'm 28. I built my own computer. I (used to) play D&D. I love science fiction. How can I find kindred spirits?
posted by petehern to Human Relations (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a local library? You could put up a flyer looking to start a science fiction book club.
posted by something something at 9:05 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Maybe a FLGS? (Friendly Local Gaming Store) ?
posted by AltReality at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unitarian church or meditation / dharma center anywhere in the area? (While you might not be interested in the philosophical or spiritual end, you might find some geeks at either.)
posted by aught at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2010

You don't say where you are, or if there are any close big cities, but if there's a craigslist board for a nearby big city, it would be worth posting/looking there under groups/general/activities.
posted by TheBones at 9:18 AM on June 4, 2010

Is there a coffee house or cafe with free wi-fi? That's like the watering hole in the dry season for geeks.

You could volunteer at the local school on the "if there's no geeks, make your own" theory.
posted by ecurtz at 9:24 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Put on your geekiest t-shirt, grab a SF novel, head down to the diner by the courthouse, drink coffee, and read. You know, the diner where the mayor and his cronies have breakfast everyday, the one every single important person in town frequents at least weekly? The one where they have the yellowing picture of the 1979 girl's varsity basketball team taped to the cash register? They went to State that year, you know. Finished fifth. We were real proud. Become a regular at that diner, always carry your geek signifiers, and you will eventually meet a geek or a parent of a geek or a neighbor of a geek, and then the doors will open for you as you meet their friends, too.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:26 AM on June 4, 2010 [22 favorites]

Stay connected with your geek friends on facebook. With all of the online games and ways to interact online you don't need to meet them in person.....if your really a true geek :-)
posted by kickingback77 at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2010

If all else fails, create some geeks. You've met some "great people" -- surely at least some of them would be up for a book club where sometimes you read scifi, or for trying out some D&D or whatever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2010

I'm in the same boat, and have found a few geeks in my general vicinity by doing random facebook/twitter/flickr searches for my town, and nearby towns. I haven't really pursued any meetups, but it's nice to know kindred spirits are around.
posted by usonian at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2010

I second BitterOldPunk's input. I've been missing geeking out, and there have been a few times I started coversations with people with "d20" t-shirts and the like. Usually in places where neither party is in a rush, that's too noisy, etc... like the library, neighborhood coffee shop, or running into some people who are likewise waiting for someone at the mall or other store...
posted by Debaser626 at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2010

1. Buy a Metafilter shirt.

2. Wear it around.

I am serious about this.
posted by Danf at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah... expanding on the "make your own" strategy, I strongly recommend the board game "Settlers". My brother (not a geek) and his wife (doubly-so) were introduced to it by a single geek roommate, and ended up getting their entire circle of not-geek friends addicted.

It's something you and your wife could do together with another couple over drinks at your house or theirs. That in itself would be lots of fun. However when, after a while, Settlers + all the expansion packs just isn't cutting it anymore, you could try introducing a more complex game.

Another idea I just had is good sci-fi TV shows. Introduce them to BSG, Firefly, True Blood--all shows I've gotten my not-geek fiancée to watch with me (and with gusto). Again, it's something you can all do together over drinks and dinner, and gives them an "in" to all the sci-fi elements through the excellent characters and plotting. Also, if it gives them a taste for sci-fi serial dramas, you'll have someone to come over on Tuesday night when the next great sci-fi/fantasy/horror series comes out.

George R.R. Martin strikes me as a good introduction to written fantasy (good writing, well-fleshed out characters, insane plotting--plus gradual introduction of magical elements), and as for sci-fi ANYONE and their mother (including mine) can get into Ender's Game.

If you try to introduce RPGs, I would probably shy away from going straight into D&D. For one reason, the name itself could be a bit fraught for anyone with a religious background or who might have heard about it growing up without really knowing what it is. The other reason, however, is that an adult not already into fantasy doesn't really have an "in"--unless they were, say, big fans of the LotR movies. Not only would they have to learn a complicated rule system but they would also have to learn an entire milieu they might not have much interest in.

Therefore, I would suggest picking an RPG based on something they're already familiar with and into: i.e. there are Firefly, BSG, and Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin) RPGs (see above! :) ). There's also Star Wars, LotR, vampires, RPGs based off videogames, etc.

Anyways, good luck on your geek hunt!
posted by theDTs at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2010

You can go to or whatever and look for D&D (or chess or go or Linux or whatever) groups.
posted by callmejay at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2010

Danf has the right idea. Just about any time I've been out in my MeFi shirt at a place with more than 20 people, someone has remarked, "Nice shirt".

(Of course, the same could be said for my Great Plains - the band - Tshirt that has a giant Black Cat - like the fireworks - on it.)
posted by notsnot at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2010

Go to an event at the local high school or junior high and meet the science teacher. He/she may know more about the local geek scene.
posted by CathyG at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2010

Ham radio - use this locator to find licensed hams near you (if you are in the US). Even if you are not interested in electronics or radio hams are often also interested in other geeky/nerdy/scientific things.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:25 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to second the geeky t-shirt move -- I recently got a great response from wearing a 20 year old Red Dwarf shirt.

But I realised that I was at a con, where people are naturally more outgoing, and that if I saw someone in a geeky shirt out of that context, I would smile to myself but not approach them.

Something more proactive may work -- find the nearest comic/gaming/sci-fi shop (if there is one), hang signs looking for people to start a role-playing session with in the SF&F section of the library/bookstore. If your town/county has a local online bulletin board (I've noticed these for rural English towns), post there.
posted by jb at 12:12 PM on June 4, 2010

My little village seems to have a geek population active on its Freecycle. Do you perhaps have some geek stuff to give away?
posted by kmennie at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2010

Lure one into your home by calling the local computer repair tech? I nabbed my own when my work had an IT guy come to my office who ended up excitedly regaling me with stories about his paranormal investigations "side-job". Twoferone!
posted by Juicy Avenger at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2010

Oh yes I second Freecycle as well, put up something awesomely geeky as bait.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 1:45 PM on June 4, 2010

Are you my neighbor? You have described the county where I live, though the town size sounds too big. I met people in town through MetaFilter [seriously] by seeing who was near me and saying "hey we should get lunch sometime" I've also met some tech nerds by being the person who will fix computers [word of mouth stuff] and they introduce me to other people. Not always geeky with tech, but often geeky in other ways [arty, sci-fi, it varies] which is good. Mention you are looking to meet people to the people you do know and often people will have suggestions. I'm often at the coffee shop or the library with my laptop which I think can be helpful. Peopel can stick to themselves, so it's a good idea to have chatty conversations with people who you're already talking to [counter person at the cafe] that other people can sort of tune in to. They'll get to know you soon enough.

Other options people have mentioned are good, including Freecycle, Craislist [not too big out here] and looking up locals on Twitter or facebook which, in a rural area, can mean people who are at least geek-friendly. It seems like the first step is to get yourself out there [go teach adult ed classes, go volunteer, join and outdoor club] and then tailor the people you spend more time with to the ones who share your interests.
posted by jessamyn at 5:00 PM on June 4, 2010

Bitteroldpunk has it. I used to work in my (much larger, outside of a major city) local used bookstore. One of the pluses that come from being a regular is that the waitstaff may recommend other geeks they have seen that you might miss in your regular hours.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:03 AM on June 6, 2010

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