One of the challenges in my life is staying socially connected, working on my projects, and staying sane in this world. Those things don’t always connect because it takes effort to connect, my projects can be demanding (if fun), and the world is really dumb right now. Plus everyone’s stressed, work is tough, and going out is a lot of effort and arguing over which Disney-backed movie to see quickly gets sort of sad.
My solution, which I’ve tried the last two months, is the Hangout.
It works like this:
- Someone with enough room invites people over for a few hours (I recommend at least 4). This should be a quiet house or apartment, but could also be a library room or a local shop.
- There is no real agenda.
- Everyone brings their laptops, notebooks, books, whatever.
- If possible, bring food like a potluck or something. Don’t make it complex, just easy.
- Everyone sits around and does their thing, only they do it together. Sure you might game or run something on TV if folks want. I even ran a Background game called Becalm.
- It helps if you have several rooms/locations.
- Do it for as long as you want.
I’ve done these twice (and once by accident when I misinterpreted a schedule) and my gods they were wonderful. We all hung out. We talked. We watched TV. We got things done. We just were sitting around being together.
Since a lot of my friends are creative, I’ve emphasized its a great place to do things (writing, games, graphics design) while being together. But the key thing is just low-key socialization.
(Not to say I didn’t get a lot done during the times I did these).
I think what works for me is that we’ve made socializing overly complex and over busy. We’re trying to figure which film to see, what restaurant to go to, who’s schedule is open, etc. Relaxing with friends feels like work – this makes it non-work.
So now my goal is to run one of these a month at least. Just throw open the living rooms, hang out, do whatever. It’s relaxing, it’s social, it’s low key.
BONUS IDEA: I’m trying to figure how we can work Skype, Slack, or Discord into this so people can hang out together across the world. Let me know if you have any ideas.