'Out' of the Loop?

Facebook events has become a vital tool for those of you organising meet ups; parties; any kind of gathering really and over the last 6 months we’ve seen a proliferation of event organisers on the lesbian and bi women’s scene using Facebook in just this way.

Most of us know how to use Facebook – it takes minutes to create an event, you can add a photo, send invitations, give all the details and manage the RSVPs. As an invitee it allows you to see who else is going, how many people and to easily offer your own RSVP/excuses. Sounds too easy, so what is the catch?

Facebook groups and events are for many new events the only source of information as the cost and skill requirement of setting up a website is perhaps deemed unnecessary when there is a perfectly suitable free alernative - but at what cost?

Some of the feedback we’ve had from Planet London visitors who are teachers is that Facebook can be an awkward and uncomfortable method to RSVP to events. The lack of privacy and potentially high visibility of the news feed telling the world what events you have signed up to (when they are public) can be off putting for people who are not out on Facebook.

Facebook’s success is that it is so perennial but this is also one of its downfalls too. That balance between work and professional lives, family and friends, intimate and public is a fine line on the public platform of social media.

A lot of teachers and other people who aren’t out to certain groups in their lives tell us that they miss out on events because they have to choose not to join certain groups, can’t say yes to RSVPing to things and as such end up out of the loop on a lot of what it going on and that they would otherwise be interested in.

Planet London's aims include supporting a diverse and inclusive social scene for lesbian and bi women in London. Therefore we are concerned if the main channel being used to organise events indirectly stops some people from getting involved. We have been exploring ways around this.

One solution we’ve found to this is to use specifically designed event organising social media – that isn’t connected to Facebook profiles. We've searched the web high and low, looking for suitable alternatives, not just alternatives; solutions that also share the same values as Planet London. Thankfully our search wasn't fruitless, such a website does exist!

Scene Nomad is one such alternative which we have found. It works in a similar way to Meetup (a mainstream social network of groups) and offers a useful, free and easy to use alternative to Facebook for sharing infomration and joining groups with common interests but with two differences, 1) it is secure so you only see the members when you are logged in, and 2) it is an LGBT only website so you know the other members are also LGBT and not likely to be a colleague or family member you're not out to (unless of course they are also not out but this would be a whole new situation!).

For those of you not aware of Scene Nomad, it is a social networking website that recognises cultural diversity within the LGBT community and facilitates the organisation of events in any environment whilst remaining secure. By becoming a member you can attend events suggested by other members, join networks, create your own events and networks all based on the things that interest you. You can connect with other Scene Nomad members with similar interests, upload and tag photos, and leave comments and feedback about the events you attended. It's a perfect way of meeting new friends and becoming part of a wider community.