Tonight was the monthly meeting for the Paris Expat Canadian meetup group. We’d been meaning to go to the group for a while now, but this was the first time that we’ve actually been able to make it out (for some reason, they have a penchant for selecting nights on which some other awesome thing is happening). I’d been to meetup.com groups before in Vancouver, and while they were always at least a little interesting, they tended to be greater amounts of disappointing.
Brian, a friend of ours from Vancouver who is also in Paris now, made the observation that my prior groups were all interest based and tended to be the sort of interest (Software Development, Board Games, Nerdy Website, etc.) that made no guarantee of social skill. This meetup, however, was very much social based, and made no serious claims of involving Canadians at all. Also, this was at a pub. All in all, I think that it’s fair to say that this went much better than the last Vancouver Software Developer meetup group I was at, where I was actually started out of the room by the tinfoil hat brigade of Greater Vancouver. It was very weird.
One of the highlights of the evening was shaking hands with a face that I already recognized from his website. When we started looking at moving to Paris, I did some web research and came up with the Truffles for Breakfast blog, “in which two dreamers simplify their lives and move to Paris.” The blog described the work that a couple from San Francisco had to go through to move their lives to Paris about a year before we did, and was a fantastic resource for us as we looked to make a very similar move.
I read a lot about Joe and Morgen’s life before meeting Joe this evening, so I knew a lot of his background coming in, and probably knew about him better than I know about many of the people I hang out with here on a weekly basis. That said, I still didn’t actually know the person at all, which is a very different thing entirely. This is a weird side effect of the internet. A lot of the social networking and blog type stuff that’s out there is wonderful as long as you:
[a] Know the person that you are reading about in Real Life.
[b] Will never meet the person you are reading about.
I still haven’t figured out how to breach the third case (Knew them online before meeting them in Real Life) with any sort of social grace. It’s only happened to me twice now, but both times it’s very awkward.
Me: “Hi, I’m Dave, from Vancouver. This is Sarah, my wife. Sarah, this is Joe, he’s a technology writer from San Francisco that moved here two years ago with his wife and cat.”
Joe: “Hi I’m… have we met?”
Me: “Nope. But I read your blog!”
OK, so maybe that wasn’t quite how it was, but definitely creepy feeling nonetheless.
In any case, he, and the rest of the people we met with tonight, all turned out to be interesting and not the least bit socially inept (I’m looking at you, VanDEV!). This is definitely going to be recurring theme for our stay in Paris.
[Edited for Spelling on 4/17/2009.]