Virtual men's groups are thriving across the world. Men’s groups have typically been such that a group of 5 to 15 men gather in-person for an hour or two weekly or every other week. It is a fabulous time to talk, enjoy some downtime, have some deep conversations, get to know guys more, find support and camaraderie. So, why the shift to virtual men's groups? What is changing among virtual groups? Let's explore some of the cool things happening creating the shift.
Often, men find it difficult to leave work on evenings, get home, grab a bite to eat, then go to the location where their men’s group meets in-person. It is at times a mad dash for men to make this happen, but they do it because they want this type of scheduled time with the guys. It’s healthy. Sometimes men find themselves having to skip a meeting because they get caught in heavy traffic, aren’t feeling well and may need to stay home close to a restroom, or have to stay with children because their spouse had something to do outside of the home as well on the same night. I know many men’s groups who try to avoid some of these issues by meeting early weekday mornings, weekends, etc. No matter when a group meets there are many valid obstacles that can creep in to interrupt even a longstanding commitment to meet with guys regularly.
In recent years, but especially in recent months since COVID-19, technology has drastically improved the ability for people to gather via multiple virtual meeting platforms. Men’s groups have hit the ground running in this direction. It has now opened new horizons for many men. Men’s groups once local to a specific city or town in a single state now have men from neighboring cities, neighboring states, states in other parts of the US, and even men from other parts of the globe joining their scheduled meetings. They gather. They talk. They support one another. They learn from one another. All for an hour or two once each week or so on a variety of virtual platforms. Check out this concept online. You will find a plethora of men’s groups that meet virtually on a regular basis. Some have nominal fees to keep things going, but many are free or very close to it.
Men who previously were not comfortable attending men’s groups in-person have joined virtual groups. It may be because they don’t really know some of the men; perhaps they are comforted knowing that they won’t run into these guys in their town--I don’t know. It’s also highly likely that they simply find it easier because they do not have to travel. They are able to meet right where they are at home, in the car, wherever. Regardless of the reasons, this is a huge step in the right direction for many, many men.
Breakout groups are possible within each virtual men's group. This allows for a wide variety of brainstorming sessions with a smaller set within the group. Competitive games can occur within the group by having quick breakout sessions. There are many possibilities.
Many men are now developing connections with others living on continents elsewhere. Opportunities exist to gain knowledge about other cultures, hear how men in other areas are in many ways no different, yet in some ways very different. I think it helps men grow when they see that men across the globe are more alike than they realize and often struggle with the exact same issues. It is a learning opportunity and a true reality check, Honestly, maybe even a wake-up call.
In addition to the weekly or every other week group meetings, some other very innovative things are occurring with virtual men's groups. An increase of private Facebook groups are being developed to keep men connected between meetings. Group chats via mobile phone texting are on the rise, again to keep everyone communicating more regularly than just at their scheduled meeting time. Instagram, Twitter, and personal Facebook pages also help connect men. There are greater opportunities to learn more about one another's lives. LinkedIn is even a way that I see men in virtual men's groups connecting with one another in a professional manner, helping one another with business contacts, supporting one another through B2B opportunities, all as a result of meeting in a men's group. The possibilities are endless.
Another exciting thing that has happened with virtual men’s groups due to enhanced technology is having the opportunity to invite menswork enthusiasts from around the world as guest speakers to join regularly scheduled men’s group meetings. There are at least 200 men that I know around the US and across the globe that focus on menswork as much as, and in many cases far more than, me. It is encouraging to be invited to participate in so many men’s groups. A guest menswork enthusiast like myself can drop into a men’s group on a virtual platform without having to travel for hours on end. It provides an opportunity for new perspectives, words of encouragement, motivational stories, experiences, and so much more to be shared which will further grow men’s groups, increase camaraderie, and build stronger relationships worldwide among men.
More men are engaging with one another, sharing their personal story, hearing others’ personal stories, participating in mentoring opportunities, becoming more vulnerable, being deeply enriched through the development of cross-cultural connections around the globe, building friendships, being encouraged and uplifted, seeking out and experiencing the benefits of mutual accountability, unifying around commonalities, and ultimately finding purposeful meaning to life.
Overall, in the last few months, men’s groups have grown exponentially. It is a great thing. I am thrilled. I know many men’s leaders across the world that are equally as excited about the innovative things happening in virtual men’s groups.
As I continue resourcing men for life, I will soon be sharing posts focused on the growing list of men’s groups available in some localities and many which have global reach. I will feature groups one per blog post. Some in-person, others 100% virtual. Stay tuned. Stay connected. Let’s do this thing called ‘life’ together!