Group meetups 101: How does it work in New York?

Fang Yuan

I have been living in New York City for more than 2 years. In this densely populated area, people are busy with their own jobs, running errands and, in the meantime, maintaining their own social network with their family, friends, coworkers, and business partners.

When I first moved from Shanghai – another metropolis – to this tiny urban island, I knew nobody. In the beginning, I truly enjoyed the unprecedented time alone. I was able to fully arrange my time. Several months later, I realized that it is essential to make new friends, and spend time maintaining those friendships. Everyone here is fighting for limited resources and opportunities: no one can do anything alone.

The cost of maintaining a relationship is high in New York City. First of all, it is a challenge to find a good time for New Yorkers. New Yorkers will tell you that they are busy, always. Additionally, finding the best place to hang out is hard for a bigger group. Everyone has her or his own strong opinion.

Last but not least, there is the question of whether we meet after work or on the weekend. The notorious MTA Planned Service Charges at night and on the weekend become a problem for someone who needs to travel for more than 2 hours after a dinner and ends up going back home at 12am.

I sometimes receive group meeting invitations from my friends via Facebook event pages or group chat. That is to say, I know the organizer, but only some of the people who are invited. A typical meeting organizer will invite some of her or his friends. Then someone will drag more friends to join. Below is an event that ended today: 105 people were invited in total; I counted the number of people that I know at 27. I did a rough numbers check for all the group invitations I have recently received. Typically, I know 20-30% of the people.

However, the organizer usually will have her own rationale, and believes that we have something in common. I can decide if I want to show up, when to show up and how long I want to be there, and who I probably want to interact with. At these meetings, I not only catch up with my old friends, but also get to know some new people.

The author's Facebook screenshots.
The author’s Facebook screenshots.

A friend of mine graduated early this year, and invited a group of us over Facebook to attend his farewell meet up on a weekend afternoon. He stayed in a bar in Brooklyn from 1pm to 7pm. He invited his friends and family members to say goodbye any time in between 1pm and 7pm. I had a time clash that day, but I really wanted to say goodbye, so I stopped by for 15 minutes. I saw one person I know and was introduced to his sister and brother-in-law and some other people there.

It was a perfect arrangement, knowing how group meeting works.

Later, I had the chance to experiment with this style of group meetups in China.

How did that turn out? You will have to read my next article to find out.

(Top photo from

Fang Yuan

Fang Yuan is our columnist. She used to live in New York and is originally from Shanghai. She is a Certified Passive House Consultant and works on sustainable building consulting. She believes that technology helps people and the environment if it is being used mindfully.

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