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Socializing without Social Media

(Horner Park in Chicago)

Think about it for a minute: When was the last time you met up with local Pagans to do something that wasn't specifically wrapped around a ritual? Has it been a while? I'm not talking about traveling cross-country all caravan-style to attend a big festival with Big Name Pagans speaking; that doesn't count here. I'm talking about people in your own community, people who may live just a few miles away, who you may even chat with online regularly. Have you met up with some of them for coffee? Dinner? Fruit picking? A night at the show? Hanging out at someone's home? A not-specifically-Pagan drum circle even? For many of us, myself included, it's probably been a lot longer than we care to admit.

A good many of us, after Pagan Spirit Gathering, felt really off jumping back into Mundania. So, a couple of decompression brunches were put together here in Chicagoland to just get back together for a couple hours and shoot the breeze over some food. Back before social media was a major thing, which wasn't all that long ago, there were socials all over the city just like that. In fact, there were so many, it could often be daunting which ones to attend. Then came sites online like LiveJournal. Then MySpace. Then Facebook. Then Twitter. Then... well, pick your poison. It's easy to stay home, share pics of cute kitties mixed in with the Cause du Jour and maybe some personal status updates to keep things personal. It's so easy in fact it can even seem like an absolute chore to attend a large ritual.

We're all busy. I put in much more than forty hours a week myself, plus I keep a tidy home and a happy family. But when I think about it, I have to ask myself how busy am I really? Most of my day revolves around talking on the phone and meeting people - sure. But a much bigger portion of my day is sitting in my car with the ac running, playing with my fancy-pants phablet reading Facebook posts and catching up on various TV series - instead of doing work as the main motivation of buying the thing. (Right now, I'm finally watching the Breaking Bad series, and I'm torn between Jessie and Walt Jr. as my favorite characters.)

Jessie after Breaking Bad teams up with Walt Jr.

(I often wonder what becomes of Jessie after the series. Does he partner up with Walt Jr. to make the most amazing breakfast ever? Would it be a cereal that looks like blue rock candy and taste like bacon?)

I can beat myself up for that, but I have to feel like I'm not the only one being less than social via social media. I could do more, but I don't. Sometimes, I don't meet with people because I don't want to go out by myself. And sometimes, when I know it's a huge gathering that's specifically involving an open ritual, I'm honestly not feeling it for that type of energy sharing. Open rituals take a lot out of me, as they're well... open. I'm extremely extroverted, which should be right up my alley, but sharing energy with relative strangers is a toughie. I'm solitary by choice, mostly because there aren't too many people out there who see things the way I do, much less worship the way I do.

Back when there were all kind of coffee socials I could attend, I was all on that. Of course, that was back when I had a 9-5 job, and meeting up with people on a Friday or Saturday night was easy on my schedule. I was happy just to be around people who were much more like-minded, and the conversations would float from serious to straight up goofy, trivial nonsense. I don't even like coffee, so I certainly wasn't there for the food. Just being around others, in a non-committal sharing of thoughts and perspectives helped me learn a lot more than many of the books I had ever bought (and sold on eBay afterward for lack of enduring resource material).

We talked about this at the decompression, and it was decided to do just that - see if we can bring back the socials. We also took a lot of things into consideration, such as where to meet, what to do, that sort of thing. Because we Chicagoland Pagans are pretty diverse and spread out, we figured we'd try something a little different each time and in different areas around town. So the first one - with the weather being fantastic and all - we figured a potluck picnic at a large park with easy public transportation and street parking would be ideal. We actually used to have an annual picnic at the woods, though that required registering and collecting permits for that. This here, much easier solution.

And with that, here's the link to our first outing! Lammas Pagan Picnic - we called it Lammas as that's the closest holiday, but nothing formal, meaning no strong ritual-base of anything. Just good food and good people, open to all! Next month, maybe we'll get together at the Ren Faire or something!

So if you're interested and live in the vicinity, swing by on Sunday, July 27th from noon to 4pm. Bring a dish and your own dishes, and leave no trace. If you want to grill, bring your own grill (but take responsibility for the charcoal if you use it). There's lots of shade, but you can bring a canopy. You can bring a blanket, chairs, or whatever makes you comfortable. And yes, you can bring your family and friends! This is super casual!

And, if you're not in the area, why not start your own? Just getting us all together, in person, is a big deal, and if even just one other person shows up, you've made a connection that's so important. Make a suggestion to a few of your online friends. Become in-person acquaintances. Put an idea together to meet somewhere. Then - show up and hope a few others do, too. It's an absolute necessity, and hey, the fresh air will do you some good!

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Lori Dake is a life-long native several generations back, a mom to an adult son and has been together with her husband over twenty years. She is a real estate broker primarily serving the North Side and has also worked as a paralegal for several years. Sometimes, she’s a hardcore fashionista, and sometimes a concert shirt and jeans are more her style. Hobbies include painting while listening to 80’s metal, writing, participating in various forms of philanthropy and creating fabulous meals on a budget.


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