I’m Here to Make Friends: A Spin Through New York’s Meetups

Seven days on Meetup.com.

Dungeons and Dragons is the most popular tabletop role-playing game of all time. The game is played with about 6 players. One person takes the role of storyteller, AKA the Dungeon Master, and narrates the story in a medieval fantasy world filled with magic, monsters, romance, intrigue, and adventure. The rest of the players take on the roles of individual fictional characters and explore that world, often becoming heroes in the story.

Around 8 p.m. on a recent Monday, about 35 people of disparate ages were sitting on the marble steps of the public atrium inside Two World Financial Center, listening to a 25-year-old in baggy jeans named Jordan Phoenix talk about Living. “This is the class where we figure out who we are and what we want to do with our lives,” he told his audience, a range of artists and professionals, employed and unemployed, 20-somethings and middle-aged divorcees who, like me, were drawn in by Mr. Phoenix’s aggressive pitch on the website Meetup.com.

As the post had put it: “This group is for you if you know you are capable of greatness, but are unclear and frustrated about how to get there.” The group, “Start Living in 2012,” had picked up more than 100 members in three days, which made it a very fast-growing meetup group indeed.

“I love that everyone here showed up,” Mr. Phoenix said. “Sixty-eight people RSVP’ed. Thirty people didn’t show up. Guess what? They’re not invited to the next meetup, because they’re bullshit artists.”

I had no intention of going to the next meetup. As much as I want to start living in 2012, I was merely a tourist. Read More

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