Trying to make arrangements to do anything in this day and age can be hellish. I miss the days where all we had were landlines, you could call your friend up on a Friday night: ‘wanna hang out tomorrow?’ ‘Sure!’ And hang out you would. Ahh, it was a simpler time. But then you grow up, you have a job, family, commitments and all that jazz and it would seem we lose the ability to agree to do something, then actually follow through with said thing. Flakiness is a trait that permeates through modern culture like a big ugly plague.
A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We were saying how we were keeping up with each other’s lives via social media, but we wish we saw each other more. We said how it’d be great if there was some sort of monthly meetup where we can all just catch up with each other.
So, my cogs got to turning.
A few years ago, the Women’s Institute was enjoying a bit of a resurgence – there were all these articles about how they were now super cool and a new generation of women were joining. I had just moved back down to London and really liked the idea of tapping into that sort of network, becoming part of a sisterhood. I did some research and was actually pretty disappointed with what I found, mainly a complete lack of diversity. That’s not really representative of my life and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in a room where a real cross section of women weren’t involved. I toyed around with the idea of starting a bit of an alternative to the WI, embracing the network of cool chicks I knew, but for some reason, I shelved the idea.
But now seemed like the ideal time to dust that bad boy off and bring it out of storage. I would create this network of badass women who do cool shit and we’d have monthly meetings where we’re badass and do cool shit together. I started a Facebook group called the Dream & Do Collective. I was all fired up. I wrote a missive about how it’s so easy now, with social media, to just be passive observers of life, how no one really DOES anything anymore and I wanted this group to change that. I had no interest in having a Facebook group with a shit ton of people in it who just ‘like’ posts but never actually do anything. The Dream & Do Collective was all about showing up, contributing, getting involved, making the effort, sharing, growing, connecting…in person. And people flocked to it. Rah rah sisterhood! Yes! We want this! We need this!
Friends invited friends to join the group and before I knew it, it had 130 odd members. The first event was a meet and greet which happened a week or so after the creation of the group and 20 women came down. Pretty good turn out on short notice.
I’ve held two or three events since then. I had a neuroscientist come and give a talk about the brain (which was h’amazing on a whole lot of levels), great discussions started happening within the Facebook group, I arranged a talk about building a business and becoming your own boss. But the same thing happens each time; out of the 130 or so members, about 30 would RSVP ‘yes’, a few more would RSVP ‘maybe’ and then on the event day itself, messages would pour in one after another, about how people can’t make it. The actual show up rate averaged 15-18 people at each event. Out of a group of 130+.
So what I’ve realised, is people actually don’t want to do things at all. Most people are really quite content to observe life through social media. This is just how society is now. This is our culture. Why go to an event where you can learn from someone about building a business, when you can just stay at home and find all that info on the internet, without the hassle of getting the tube?
There’s very little thought given to the fact that event space had to be arranged, a speaker gave up their time for free, real effort went into organising it. But, I mean, people will post pics of it on social media after, right? So, we don’t actually need to go to it – we can get the gist from whatever we see online.
And this is no shade to the people who contacted me and were genuinely sick or couldn’t make it for a variety of reasons. People have lives. I get this. I don’t expect everyone to be able to attend every event that’s put on, but inevitably, there will be people in the group who have no intention of attending anything.
It just saddens me a little that this is where we find ourselves. That if people manage to complete both steps of a fairly simple two step program (1. Agree to do something. 2. Do it), it’s actually pretty impressive.
I know this probably comes across as bitterness or sour grapes or me throwing my toys out of the pram because my events weren’t ‘well attended’ but it’s really not. The events have actually been great and the people who have shown up are wonderful and engaged and enthusiastic. I guess I was just hoping the whole idea would connect with more people, only to realise that society seem to be going the other way.
So what’s the future of the Dream & Do Collective? I really don’t know. I will most likely downsize it. It may just become a supper club thing, it may actually just be me making more of a concerted effort to meet up with friends more regularly.
Flakiness is an unattractive trait. And I too, can be a flaky person. But it’s something I’m working on. And I hope that as a society, we can step away from the screens long enough to see the value in real life interactions again.
Show up. Do something.
Hitting ‘like’ does not equate to having an experience.