Finding Your Culture
Culture has many meanings. When I say Culture, what I mean is
— The actions/habits/tendencies that seem to be commonly shared among those within a group.
Finding the right group or culture has been of the most difficult challenges that I have faced in every stage of my life. As a human, the rules are not very defined for what is right and what is wrong. Sure, there are some guidelines to go by, like “Though Shalt Not Kill”, and the like, however things often become rather muddled when you look at the granularity of a specific situation.
Let me give an example: In a particular friends group, I find some of the most sweet hearted and honest individuals I have met. They are loyal, trustworthy, inclusive, and open minded. They also make racists/gay/sexist jokes at every opportunity to a crowd of mostly white males with a few other skin tones and genders sprinkled here and there. These are good people. People you would likely want to have at your back and side should you reach a challenge, a difficult situation, the day to day, or of course be in the revels of celebration.
The mannerisms however they practice are not acceptable in situations outside of their groups culture. I will tell you from personal experience, They don’t care what color/gender/sexuality you are. No one of any color/gender/sexuality/(etc…) who spends time with them is ever concerned or believes that this group cares what “avatar” they are. In fact, your differences are something to be celebrated in a strange “New Joke Material” sort of way. From an outsider looking in, their practices have seemed like a despicable descent in to barbarism. From my experience though, they are people who’s outward shell of interaction belies an inner acceptance and love. It’s just their culture.
On a somewhat related vein, I find myself not wanting to spend all of my time with this group. The joke material is not the primary reason for aversion, though I do believe that those jokes lead to the long term erosion of ability to engage in new situations by forming a habitual protocol of interaction that relies too heavily on a small set of topics related to the irony of stupidity of past ages (Yes I do believe that their jokes are ironic and poking fun at beliefs of inequality, not at inequality… it’s complicated). In the realm of leisurely activities our interests are very shared. I highly enjoy spending time with my friends in this group, however there is a craving for slightly more thought provoking interaction and dialogue than I often find in said company.
Finding the right culture is a challenge that I still face. At the moment, the answer seems to be to have a separate group of individuals for every project or topic that you might be interested in. Most of the groups I have experience with, are “all or nothing” groups, which ask full commitment to every project (“Outing, dinner, sit at someones house doing nothing stimulating”), in order to have any clout or even invitation to activities. Finding others with a similar method of interaction and similar topics… that is where the challenges arise.
Why does it matter?
Finding the right culture can be a journey. The culture that is right today, may not be right tomorrow. The culture around you provides a constant influence on thoughts by forming a gravity of conversation and action towards common ideas. Which in turn affects the amount of time and energy you spend thinking about topics (thus propagating towards knowledge pool, skillfulness, and advancement of the given topics). If you are involved in a culture that does not share topics your topics of interest, you will find that much of your effort is not devoted to those topics… Or, that you don’t operate very well in that culture.
Schools, Companies, Churches, and other semi-obligate participation groups (idk.. prison?), offer an excellent platform where interaction is guaranteed between peoples who have little other commonalities, or would otherwise not be known to one another. These platforms offer convenience opportunity where the users/participants are already invested in the common organization, and already exposed to happenings and word of mouth within. Thus universities and companies will continue to be excellent meeting grounds for those with common interests to exchange ideas. Allowing for an overarching culture of the unifying entity (school, company, prison, etc..) and micro-cultures to form based on individual interests.
How then, are you to meet others if you are not a member of one of these organizations. Do you join an organization simply to find a medium through which to find a group? I don’t think that’s a suitable answer as “Drinking Coolaide to be Cool” has some serious side affects that should be heavily considered. You should join an aggregate organization only if you are on board with their practices in the first place, and then benefit from additional exposure to other like minded individuals. Aligning your objectives with your community is integral to facilitating constant growth and progression. I mean you can do it alone, but that has it’s own problems all together.
So what do you do?
For a while there was a website, MeetUp.com, that heavily facilitated my search for particular interests or topics. This was excellent… In Richmond… For a period of time. However the website has not caught on as well as I would have hoped over the past 2 years, and they have introduced new charges that will make it less likely for the website to expand to a suitable platform in the near future… We will see what happens with it. My hopes are moot.
I had a friend whom was concerned with a problem such as this. He had a passion for a game that played by many people all over the world, yet there were serious benefits to meeting up in person and enjoying this game in a shared platform. He wanted to specifically offer a platform for membership that did not require membership in any other organization (As he was not in college, and most of the groups devoted to that game at the time were college club based). His Solution was to create a Facebook group, LOLRVA, and bake the title with the city it was located in. This was an excellent solution, that has grown to a sizable membership. The primary method of exposure has been word of mouth. Someone who is in Richmond, looking for a League of Legends group, would have to stumble upon a Facebook post, or hear about it from someone whom knows. Facebook groups are excellent method for long term projects and members. Right now there is limited “Search by location” features in Facebook for finding a group (other than puting the location in your name).
But Really, What do you do?
So what if you just moved to Los Angeles. And you want to learn more about Kendo? You might only be there for a few months, you don’t have any experience with practice… but hey, it’s a big city. Certainly there are some groups that practice in the area. Meetup has no groups. Facebook might have a group… but it is buried with thousands of others when searching. Even google maps and google+ lists only 2 dojos within 50 miles. Both of which have websites that were shutdown.
How can you find a conducive culture to a physical activity in a geographical area without relying on “Stumble Magic” which can have vastly variable success rates and time lines. We have recently pioneered the “Find any intellectual interest” through the magic of the internet… Now we face the challenge of connecting those with like interests for the physical.
This is a question I am still searching to an answer for. I hope to share one day when I find it.
For now, I will offer two suggestions for anyone with the know how to implement (or whom I can assist/wants to assist in doing such).
- There is a definite market for finding a group of people whom have a specific interest in a specific geographical area. I thought MeetUp.com would grow into this solution over time, however that is looking less and less likely.
- Alternatively, there is an opportunity for a presence management company, That will ensure a group is visible through the common mediums that are used every day. (Produce a group on Facebook, google+, googlemaps, meetup, yelp, twitter, and ensure a suitable name so as to be located by searching for the location and topic, while keeping a consistent platform and cross references across all mediums).
Let me know if you have any thoughts!