I’ve been a connector for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it stems from being naturally curious about people, but I find it hard to sit next to someone in the dentist’s office and not ask them about their life story so I can mentally sift through my internal rolodex for someone else to introduce them to in hopes they’ll become lifelong friends forever and ever. (Exception: Plane rides. I do not, will not, can not chat for hours on a plane. It’s quiet time. Respect the headphones.) Naturally, it’s the reason I throw resource parties at every conference I attend. (And sometimes, online.) The other reason? They’re easy, fun, take 30 minutes and will, undoubtedly, change the world.
Remember dinner parties? They don’t exist anymore because (1) We think we’re too busy, and (2) We congregate elsewhere instead (I’m winking at you, Twitter). So we spend our weekend evenings glued to the TV or computer, decompressing after our long, hard weeks of socializing-without-really-socializing until we realize it’s Sunday night and we haven’t changed our pants. (Just me?)
It’s a rut that could be lethal for entrepreneurs or work-at-home types. In our ever-connected world, creatives are gleaning visual inspiration online, exchanging ideas in less than 140 characters and producing link round-ups that are as thoughtful as they are informative. These are all rad things. But it sort of stops there, doesn’t it?
In a fascinating read from William Deresiewicz, “Faux Friendship” explains the downfalls of living our lives online, information-hoarding and sustaining e-friendships:
“So information replaces experience, as it has throughout our culture. But when I think about my friends, what makes them who they are, and why I love them, it is not the names of their siblings that come to mind, or their fear of spiders. It is their qualities of character. This one’s emotional generosity, that one’s moral seriousness, the dark humor of a third. Yet even those are just descriptions, and no more specify the individuals uniquely than to say that one has red hair, another is tall. To understand what they really look like, you would have to see a picture. And to understand who they really are, you would have to hear about the things they’ve done. Character, revealed through action: the two eternal elements of narrative. In order to know people, you have to listen to their stories.”
Enter the resource party. Resource parties, are, essentially, little more than telling stories with intention. They are an exchange of information with the unspoken rule that yes, you really do get what you give. They are a commitment to bettering our lives by bettering those around us.
Resource parties are the antithesis of social networking. Because they’re not networking at all, are they? A resource party is the grassroots movement in a sea of Internet supremacy. It’s a circle of actual human bodies, warm and welcoming, exchanging real live handshakes and cheers in lieu of virtual “Likes” and thumbs up emoticons.
And yes, they change lives. They launch collaborations. They build partnerships. They inspire, connect, encourage. And they rekindle the true sense of community that I fear we’ve lost. As Deresiewicz so eloquently wrote, “We haven’t just stopped talking to our friends as individuals [online], we have stopped thinking of them as individuals. We have turned them into an indiscriminate mass, a kind of audience or faceless public. We address ourselves not to a circle, but to a cloud.”
Resource parties rebuild the circle by refusing the cloud. I encourage you to host a resource party in your own community, or even online by using the social sidebar of bing.com to see how your friends can help you achieve bigger, radder things. Right now. Please don’t wait.
p.s. Thanks to Bing for helping me host a resource party at Altitude Design Summit.
p.p.s. Thanks to Amy for this post.
p.p.p.s. The image above has little to do with an actual resource party, except that I like to wear hotpants when I host my own.
p.p.p.p.s. EDIT: Just put together a list of goodies that will help you throw the perfect resource party. Enjoy here!