You can probably predict one of the items on this list, but this week's we're looking at apps, games and other tools that can shake up your routine, get you out of the house and help you explore your community — or beyond.
If you're not familiar, Meetup is a site where people can create or join groups based around interests, hobbies, events and other activities. You can create your own to see who in your area shares the same interests, or you can search for a group that already exists, join and meet up with the people in the group at their next scheduled activity.
Everything from local sports teams to cooking groups to movie watching clubs to book clubs and comic book fans are represented and it's a great way to find some new people with whom you'll immediately have something in common.
9. Exercise Classes
Exercise classes, like spinning classes, martial arts classes, yoga groups, or any other group fitness activity have their pros and cons when it comes to your fitness goals, but the one thing they're universally great about? Introducing you to new people. After all, those people will see you sweating, see you struggling, and hopefully support you — and you'll support them — in the quest to get fit and stay healthy.
Some exercise classes and groups are better for this than others, so try to consider one that's generally supportive from the get-go, like a martial arts class, self-defence class, or a dance class.
8. Local Sports Teams
In the same vein as exercise classes, if you want a group where (largely, at least) everyone gets together to practice, tries to improve and then goes out to show off their stuff in a (usually) chill and fun atmosphere, look into a local sports league or team playing something you enjoy. Maybe that's a local AFL or soccer league, or maybe it's something much more laid back like a neighbourhood chess club. After all, not every sport needs to involve you getting a workout — some of them will get you out of the house and meeting people anywhere, any time.
7. Cooking, Tasting, or Evening Classes
Exercise classes will get you out and meeting new people in a team-orientated or fitness-centric environment, but cooking classes, wine or beer tastings, or other evening classes give you the freedom to do something similar without the whole, you know, physical activity part. Not to say there isn't sweating and exertion in cooking — there is — but if maybe your goal is less "get in shape" and more "meet people while learning to cook like an adult", cooking classes can help and introduce you to others with the same passion.
Cooking classes aren't the only type that will do this though. Art classes, whether it's painting, drawing, sculpting, or something more academic like art history or appreciation, will do the same. Whatever your interests, check with your local university or TAFE to see what they offer. Services like LivingSocial and Groupon regularly offer tickets and classes like these.
6. Get Involved in Local Politics
Of course, this recommendation isn't for everyone, but if you're really interested in meeting like-minded people, or just meeting people in general, local — or regional — politics is a great way to do it. You'll meet a load of people, likely just as passionate about local issues as you are and unlike national politics, you'll be able to make much more of an impact in your community.
Best of all, if the political is personal to you (and let's be honest, for most of us, it is, at least on some level) the people you meet may be friends of a lifetime. Plus, it's a great way to get a window into how politics in general works and how you can make change for the better — as opposed to just sitting back and complaining about it all.
5. Conventions And Festivals
Whether you're interested in comic books and science fiction, movies and TV shows, video games, or just pop culture in general, odds are there's a convention or festival near you that you can attend that suits you. Maybe those big national conventions have you scared off, no thanks to massive crowds and media attention.
Don't be: Local, smaller conventions can be more laid back affairs, where you can meet writers, musicians and artists, buy their work, or just go people watch and see some of the people responsible for the entertainment you love.
Best of all, since it's a good bet that everyone else attending is also a fan the same way you are, it's a good opportunity to meet people, make some new friends and get involved in a community you may never have had a window to previously.
4. Get a Pet
Every time someone brings up how difficult it is to meet people or make friends when you're older, maybe living on your own and work every day, one resounding solution is to get a dog. Having one means you'll inevitably take that dog for walks, where you'll meet other dog owners, talk, have something to talk about and inevitably meet again.
Even if you don't have a dog, you can still meet other pet owners. You just have to be a bit more proactive. You may have to find other locals who own the same type of pet on Instagram, or actually join one of those social networks for pets. It may sound hokey, but you'll connect with others in your area, learn a lot about the best way to care for your particular companion animal and when you all do get together and bring your pets, the photos will be incredible.
Please, please keep in mind that owning a pet is a massive responsibility — don't get one for the sole purpose of meeting people. If you have no interest in taking proper care of it (or are unable to due to time), best to consider one of the other tips here.
3. Your Preferred Dating App
Dating in general comes with a whole array of pitfalls and issues, but as long as you don't take it too seriously, use it as an opportunity to get out, make new friends and possibly find someone you might be romantically compatible and interested with.
But one thing's for sure — if you take it from a healthy, lighthearted, perspective, you'll definitely get out and meet people.
Volunteering, ideally at a cause that you support and believe in, is another great way to get out of your house and break up your usual routine. You'll also have the opportunity to meet people who support the same cause that you do, whether that means you're helping prep food for a local charity kitchen, or you're helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity, or maybe filling out sign up sheets or giving out juice at a blood drive.
Even if you're just volunteering at your own church or school, or cleaning up the roadways or waterways in your community, you're not only getting out and doing some good, you're doing something good for yourself — and you're meeting other people who feel the same way. If you volunteer often, you'll almost certainly make new friends, and ideally, friendships that will extend beyond your volunteering.
1. Mobile Multiplayer Games, like Pokemon GO
After all, that's their whole point — to get you out of your house and exploring new real-world locations in order to play and interact with objects in the game.
In the process though, you get out and you wind up meeting other players. Whether they're on your team, part of another faction, you work with them or you battle against them, you still meet them, strike up a rapport, and join a community of players. In Ingress, that means joining regional faction groups, Google Hangouts where you talk strategy, forums and Google+ groups where you all plan events and regional ops.
For Pokemon GO, we've already seen plenty of stories of how the game has brought people together in places they otherwise wouldn't have visited, got more exercise than they would have otherwise and met up with people they wouldn't have ever sat down next to or spoken to before.
Hell, it's better than sitting at home doing nothing, wondering why you never meet anyone with similar interests.