Rhode Island Atheist Society Message Board › Why is this Discussion Board so Under-utilized?

Why is this Discussion Board so Under-utilized? / The Same Apathy as at the Meetup?

A former member
Post #: 4
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Looking at this discussion board, I see that of the last 15 posts there have been only a handful of views and only one response to a post.

I'm wondering, that if this is supposed to be a vital community of atheists, why is this board so under-utilized?

The same people posting calls to arms over some tilting-at-windmills causes does not a vital discussion board make.

It would be better if people responded to posts here, either supporting or disagreeing with the poster, but at least respond, don't let a poster send their thoughts into a black hole of apathy.

People post a topic and there is rarely, almost never a response. Why is that?

Are people afraid to engage, afraid to disagree, afraid to engage in a discussion?

The same apathy I observed in the one meetup I attended last Monday, I observe on this board.

Picture this.

My wife and I walked into the meeting at the Smithfield Uno, and Brian took our food pantry contribution, introduced himself by saying he was in charge, but not really, and said you can sit where-ever.

Over 25 people were seated there in the "Function Room" at 7:30, when we entered. Not one person got up to greet us or introduce themselves. We sat a table with another first-timer for over two hours and not one person came up to us, introduced themselves, and said "Welcome to the group."

I find that mind-boggling. Not one person there welcomed us to the group. Not one person introduced themselves to us.

Is it because we look old, because I have grey hair?

I doubt it. I credit it to a lack of manners, a lack of organization, a lack of leadership, and to apathy, but most of all to a satisfaction with the status quo by the core members of this group who are satisfied with things just the way they are.

We like things just the way they are. Where have you heard that before?

You got a group here, who makes no effort what-so-ever to welcome new members who take the time out of their busy, professional lives to attend your group's meeting.

You got a discussion board, for Christ's sake, where no discussions take place.

Tell me, what's wrong with this picture?

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Debbie
user 13827294
Providence, RI
Post #: 4
I must confess that I certainly agree with your take on how things appeared to you at Monday's meeting. Altho I am not speaking on behalf of the group, I will speak for myself in that I agree that I should've have made an effort to reach out to to folks who were at the meeting - especially those there for the first time. I will be more mindful at future meetings. I think, and have also heard from other members that the way the room is set up is not conducive to casual conversation & mingling. In addition I think (and have heard others mention), that a more formal agenda & intro would be more welcomed.

As far as this meet-up discussion board goes...I must say I don't even really know how it works! I utilize the group's facebook page for "conversation & discussion". Why don't you check out their page: https://www.facebook....­ I am sure if you find "us" on fb, you will be pleased with the level of discussion of information.

Debbie

BTW, I certainly hope you will come to the next meeting, as I am certain that the critical criticism discussed will most likely be addressed. Everyone can benefit from improvement - just sayin' (as I often do!).

A former member
Post #: 5
Why is this Discussion Board so Under-utilized? / The Same Apathy as at the Meetup?

I must confess that I certainly agree with your take on how things appeared to you at Monday's meeting. Altho I am not speaking on behalf of the group, I will speak for myself in that I agree that I should've have made an effort to reach out to to folks who were at the meeting - especially those there for the first time. I will be more mindful at future meetings. I think, and have also heard from other members that the way the room is set up is not conducive to casual conversation & mingling. In addition I think (and have heard others mention), that a more formal agenda & intro would be more welcomed.

As far as this meet-up discussion board goes...I must say I don't even really know how it works! I utilize the group's facebook page for "conversation & discussion". Why don't you check out their page: https://www.facebook....­. I am sure if you find "us" on fb, you will be pleased with the level of discussion of information.

Debbie

BTW, I certainly hope you will come to the next meeting, as I am certain that the critical criticism discussed will most likely be addressed. Everyone can benefit from improvement - just sayin' (as I often do!




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Happy Hanukkah, Debbie.

Thanks for your response. Yes-siree, everyone can benefit from improvement, and I'm benefiting right now from my wife's efforts to make me a better person, not so hard on myself or on other people (especially her). I'm trying to be a better communicator. Communication is so important, both verbal and non-verbal.

My wife is Jewish and was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. She taught at University there until she escaped, as she puts it. Irene is a constant source of fascination to me and to anyone who takes the time to know her.

We've been lighting the Hanukkah candles this week, and our house is all decked out festively with a Christmas tree and lights and music. We like the tradition without the religious overtones or underpinnings.

You see this discussion board works pretty well. A person posts a topic and just to the right of it there is a column indicating the number of replies. It would be better if when a person clicks on the topic the entire discussion thread unfolded in sequence. That way there is greater continuity and the ability to instantly refer to what the person is responding to without clicking back and forth. But this board works alright. One can always copy and past the previous replies above the current reply.

It's a great tool for in-depth discussions if people use it. It's a a bit more adult and focused than Facebook.

I was an early adapter to FB when it first came off campus and became available to the general public. but after having some fun with it the changes began, and I became aware that FB was really about data mining, information gathering, and marketing and since then, I remain, not a fan.

As for the Group, as usual the women get it.

I noticed that they don't have a sign-up sheet at meetings so there is no way to verify this, but I'd wager that the Group has had a significant number of new members join the group, come to one meetup, and never come to another. There is a reason for this.

As I previously implied, over the course of time. in groups, a core membership forms that becomes satisfied with the status quo, and though they are not openly hostile to new members they are not overtly welcoming either. Like passive aggressive behavior is often conveyed in subtle non-verbal ques so is this group dynamic. From the choice of the venue, the set up in the venue, to eye contact or lack thereof, to body language, to lack of personal interaction with new comers, to a lack of leadership and organization at meetings, these things all send ques that can be very off-putting to new comers capable of reading them.

As for my wife and I attending another meetup? I'm afraid that's not going to happen.

My wife and I do everything together. MY wife is a lady, a lady of style and grace and capable of holding her own intellectually with anyone. She told me no amount of money could entice her to be subjected to an event with those people again. I only convinced her to go by insisting that it would be fun and we'd meet some new, nice, and interesting people. I was so embarrassed, and I apologized to her admitting that I was wrong.

As for myself, I've seen enough to know that those meetups are not for me. From the more or less separation of the sexes in the seating arrangement to the pompous, smug looks of self-importance on the faces of the obese men sitting at the table next to us -- men who sat less than three feet away from us for over two hours and never once looked over and said hello, introduced themselves or even deigned to acknowledge our presence -- to the lack of one person saying, "Welcome to the group.", to the sudden exit of most people without even an announcement that the meeting was over, yes, I've I seen enough.

One other new-comer sat at our table, David, and we're glad we came just because we met him, and we intend to continue our relationship outside the group. That is the one positive we took away from the experience.

Hopefully, Debbie, the members who listened to my criticism will take it in the spirit it was meant: Anger, outrage, and the need to communicate that.

Perhaps the Group can turn my experience and my ability to communicate it into a positive, and spare the next new-comer. who takes the time and makes the effort to attend one of the group's meetups, from what my wife and I experienced.

A little class and graciousness go a long way, even for atheists.

Debbie
user 13827294
Providence, RI
Post #: 5

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”

I am a new member to this group. I attended my first meeting in the spring. To keep it simple, I would just like to say, that my first impression of the group's meeting format was also negative. However, as newcomer to RI, I felt like I needed to make an effort to connect with like minded people. So I went back to another meeting, and then another. And altho the format is not exactly to my liking, I have managed to make some new friends. - just sayin'
smile
Armand P.
Armand1947
Taunton, MA
Post #: 3
Since I have gone back to work full time in November I have not been able to attend the meetings. I think discussion board is good idea. I never really thought about it before your post!
Armand
A former member
Post #: 6
Hi Armand.

It realy is a good discussion board. I can't understand why it is used so little.

If the board was a vital part of this group with a number of ongoing discussions during the weeks between meetings imagine how much more interesting the meetings could be.

Generally, don't atheists think of themselves as more intellectual than most people? But you would never know it by this discussion board.

A former member
Post #: 7

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”

I am a new member to this group. I attended my first meeting in the spring. To keep it simple, I would just like to say, that my first impression of the group's meeting format was also negative. However, as newcomer to RI, I felt like I needed to make an effort to connect with like minded people. So I went back to another meeting, and then another. And altho the format is not exactly to my liking, I have managed to make some new friends. - just sayin'
smile


Debbie, what I admire about you is that you are not afraid to engage.

I'm happy that you were able to integrate yourself into the group and make some friends, but really, one shouldn't have to be so tenacious and force their way into a group, proving themselves how (?) by accepting an atrocious group dynamic?

If members are unhappy with the group dynamic, as I am, and unhappy with the meeting setup as you and others seem to be, then that is what this discussion board is for. Bring it up directly to the so-called leadership who organize the meetups and control the group dynamic.

This group is what it is, probably, what it wants to be.

I doubt that anything in the assessment I made in my previous post is very far off base.

No one has to put up with rude, impolite behavior, poor planning, and a lack of focused, intelligent leadership if they don't want to.

Going along to get along leads to being perpetually unhappy with the situation you go along with.

It will be interesting to see if members begin engaging on this discussion board now that we have demonstrated how it can be be opened up for discussion.

It will be interesting to hear how the next meetup is run and whether the group dynamic has been affected by these discussions.

Will the women still cluster together, will the big, heavy hitters still hold court at their separate table with their looks of smug self importance, will new-comers still be ignored, will the room be set up the same, will a sign-in sheet be ready to record who came, will some one be there to greet new-comers and say "Welcome to the group, let me introduce you to everyone."?

I understand the frustration you feel with the group because it only took me one meetup to access the situation and the group dynamic involved.

Remember you can always start another atheist group and run it in a much more classy manner, you can set the tone from the very get go, establish boundaries, protocol, and structure and never find yourself in a situation such as this one.

There are no bad people involved here. just a group dynamic that I took one look at and would never want to be a part of and I hope I was able to convey that coherently.

Ultimately, we are responsible for our decisions and what type of behavior we are willing to accept. I'm not a man who suffers fools easily and have little patience for bad behavior. For others the pros may outweigh the cons.

If I'm not mistaken, my wife and I were the only couple there. Perhaps that is a telling factor, I don't know, just an observation. Single people behave differently than committed couples. Just sayin.
Debbie
user 13827294
Providence, RI
Post #: 6
I mentioned earlier, that most of the group's members are active on fb. I accidentally came across your discussion here, and have continued to come back to the message board as I am interested in hearing more about your experience.

Personally, I prefer fb because I am member of several groups & I feel fb is easier for me to navigate between my personal page, and the other groups I'm involved with simultaneously.

I don't feel as if I've had to force my way into the group. I feel like I made an effort to attend, and hopefully with additional input the format may change. In addition, I met people in this group that have turned me on to other groups that are committed to community service and political change - 2 things I am very much interested in.

I have no interest in starting any other group, I think the foundation is there for a well put together Atheists group. I find nothing wrong with working together with a group of like minded individuals to make the group pleasing to all who attend.

And...as a married woman, with 2 school aged children, I cannot agree with your last comment about single people vs committed couples at the meeting. I don't think folks' behavior has anything to do with their relationship status.

If I gave up on everything and everyone that I had one bad encounter with, I would have nothing, and be nothing.

Debbie
A former member
Post #: 8
I mentioned earlier, that most of the group's members are active on fb. I accidentally came across your discussion here, and have continued to come back to the message board as I am interested in hearing more about your experience.

Personally, I prefer fb because I am member of several groups & I feel fb is easier for me to navigate between my personal page, and the other groups I'm involved with simultaneously.

I don't feel as if I've had to force my way into the group. I feel like I made an effort to attend, and hopefully with additional input the format may change. In addition, I met people in this group that have turned me on to other groups that are committed to community service and political change - 2 things I am very much interested in.

I have no interest in starting any other group, I think the foundation is there for a well put together Atheists group. I find nothing wrong with working together with a group of like minded individuals to make the group pleasing to all who attend.

And...as a married woman, with 2 school aged children, I cannot agree with your last comment about single people vs committed couples at the meeting. I don't think folks' behavior has anything to do with their relationship status.

If I gave up on everything and everyone that I had one bad encounter with, I would have nothing, and be nothing.

Debbie





Well, Debbie, I'm glad to hear that the group works for you and has lead you to other simpatico activities. It's been a success for you and you've been reward for sticking with it. Kudos to you.

I think that if members want they can go to their profile page and choose to have notifications sent whenever this Message Board is updated. I'm surprised that you just happened to stumble on it. I hope more members begin to use it.

I personally despise FaceBook and everything it stands for. I find this type of discussion board much more adult, professional, and conducive to in-depth discussions.

And as for couples behavior vs singe peoples behavior, I was jus sayin, that I noticed that we were the only couple at that meetup, and I said I thought that might be telling but that "I don't' know." I still don't know. If you believe single people behave the same as married people or folks in committed relationships than you have formed an opinion that I have not arrived at just yet. The conventional wisdom is that single people behave differently than married people. But that was only one small and very insignificant aspect of what I wrote. We'd be foolish to get bogged down discussing how single vs married people behave. Let's assume for argument's sake that they behave the same and that that was a non-factor at the meetup we attended. I made an observation, and I was jus sayin.

I didn't mean to imply that you forced your way into the group, but with some groups the dynamic is such that you must attend a certain number of meetings before the group begins to accept you. Was that your experience?

Was our experience an anomaly? A once off. Just a fluke? Or am I correct in my assessment that a significant number of people join the group, come to one meetup and never come to another? Or would you characterize that as a false assumption. There are after 287 members of this group.

Debbie, what suggestions would you make to improve the group.

Or are you satisfied with the group just the way it is? The status quo?

I understand that you and others are not happy with the way the room is setup. Maybe not happy with the choice of venue.

I understand that you would have preferred someone to welcome us to the group and to introduce themselves to us and to introduce us to the group. That would have been nice.

In what other ways do you think the group could improve?

Do you think a sign-in sheet would be a good idea, to track who comes and who returns for subsequent meetups?

Do you think that instead of people showing up at 7:30 or whenever, grabbing a seat and ordering dinner, there could be a time set aside for mingling, (say 30 minutes) before grabbing a seat, to stand around and mingle and connect and introduce yourselves to each other, kind of like a cocktail hour, with or without cocktails?

Do you think a greater effort should be made to welcome new people to the group and how would you go about doing that?

Do you think an announced agenda with a monthly topic be a good idea? For instance, The Separation of Church and State: Which battles are worth fighting? Where everyone in the group is asked to think about that topic preceding the meetup, and during the meetup whoever wants to stand up and express themselves on that topic is welcome to do so during that portion of the meeting? Do you think that would be a good idea?

But what aspect of the group bothers you most? what would you most like to change?

I understand that nothing is perfect, and I never give up on things I want, things I think are worth my effort pursuing. I didn't have a bad experience, per se, at the meetup, I just felt disgusted by the behavior of the people there.

For instance, a member, Matt N, sat at our table with my wife, myself, and David. He ordered mac and cheese and while Irene, David, and I were engaged in an animated conversation, he swiveled his chair and placed his mac and cheese on the table next to us, you know, the one with the heavy hitters, the smug obese men: he sat there at our table with his back turned to us eating off the table next to us until the meeting was just about over. Now, I understand that Matt has not one clue as to how incredibly rude his behavior was: Irene, David, and I just looked at him and at each other and at the middle-aged men next to us whose table Mat was encroaching on, and laughed among ourselves.

Matt is just a kid ignorant of manners but the men at the next table should have set him straight and informed him of how rude he was being. These men are all in their late 30's or early 40's and there is no excuse for their ignorance.

In no way am I giving up on anything because of a bad experience. I'm not giving up on atheism, I'm not giving up on this group. I simply won't be attending any more meetups for the foreseeable future, but then this group has 287 members and the largest meetup I think has been a group of 37 or so.

This group is not made up only of those who attend the meetups, is it?

That's why this discussion board is so important. It's a venue for those of us who don't want to attend meetups to get let our voices be heard.

Activists don't even have to leave their homes to make a positive change, they can learn manners and improve their interpersonal interactions with people simply by looking inward and a by wee bit of reading.

You've got an extraordinary group of very nice, interesting, sincere, like minded people doing wonderful, impactfull things, and you all should rally round and take it to the next level.

But don't let my wordiness distract you from my questions. What changes would you like to see in the way this group does business?



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Dan D.
user 3370189
Group Organizer
East Providence, RI
Post #: 24
Hi John,

I'm Dan DaRocha, organizer of the meet up. I have to apologize your negative experience at the last meet up. I can assure you it had nothing to do with your age or hair color. I think you are reading to much into this whole thing. No one intentionally ignored you. I'm usually the one who goes around the room making all new comers feel comfortable, unfortunately I was not able to attend the last meet up.

With that said, I hope you will give the group one more chance. If not, then no hard feelings.

Take care and have a great holiday weekend.

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