There’s a common sentiment among young people in their 20s that they feel like they’re not a part of their community.
People move to new cities, get demanding jobs, travel frequently and have little time to embed themselves in their neighborhood. And sometimes even when they do, they may not be welcome. Especially as real estate prices rise, young people entering neighborhoods may be met with suspicion or even hostility for changing the nature of the place.
While technology helps people stay connected on a global scale, I’m skeptical that technology is connecting us to a local community.
In joining local Facebook groups and apps like NextDoor, the overwhelming majority of content I see is negative. I’m not sure if this is because negative content gets more engagement, thus the algorithm feeds more of it. Or if it’s due to the fact that there are a lot of angry people who like to complain, and having grown up in a family-friendly neighborhood and gone to a nice University I’ve been insulated against how dissatisfied a lot of people really are.
There are other options like Meetup.com where you can browse local groups that meet with a common purpose. Living in Concord, NH there are not many options, and none sound like a good fit for me. In bigger cities obviously meetup will be more vibrant and there will be many active groups to choose from.
There are local networking events through the chamber of commerce, or the young professional networks, but these are often a bit stuffy, sanitized, corporate for my liking.
I’ve tried joining sports teams to do something more “fun” and less business-y. But again I’ve found a sense of hostility that made playing soccer or basketball not fun. I could try more, and look for other leagues, other groups to join, but I lost the motivation after having so many negative experiences.
The two things that have been effective are playing tennis with people, and regularly visiting my local coffee shop. Tennis came about randomly, as I reached out to a local club to join, then was intercepted by a local guy who was looking for more people to play with. Now I’m in the mix with their group and have fun getting out on the tennis court.
As a social and active young person, I’m still looking for more ways to engage locally. I’ve been searching for the past year and a half, and haven’t found the right vibe, so I’m helping to launch a new group. We’re hosting events designed for people new to Concord, and people who know the area well. We’re striving to co-create spaces for people to connect, meet each other and make future plans together.