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Monday, September 27, 2010

We'll All have grey hair eventually

By Cristael Bengtson

Whenever I go online and do a Google search for ‘Mac User Groups’, there’s almost always someone on a forum who’s dissing User Groups.

User Groups are a bunch of graybeards trying to figure out how to use their iPhones. They have raffles. They don’t want to talk to anyone under 40.

And the punchline: User Groups, as a breed, are dying out, if not already dead. Good riddance. Who needs ‘em.

Here are some facts:

There are as many User Groups out there as ever. Memberships may be smaller. Some groups have closed their doors. Yet, for every group that dies, another group springs up.

The graying of User Groups has been a long established fact. What hasn’t been noticed is that some of those gray-hairs are middle aged people who have recently decided to join up.

There are members in almost every group who are beginners or basic users. There are also a few members in most groups who have Mac expertise ranging from good to professional. For example, MacValley’s emcee, Elena-Beth Kaye, is an Apple Listed Mac Consultant. And almost half of our presenters over the past two years have been members of the Apple Consultant’s Network.

We have a prizedrawing at each meeting, and we’re proud of it. At our August meeting our main prize was a donated copy of ‘Freeway 5’. We’ve also given away fantastic t-shirts from MacWorld, along with DVD’s of ‘Matrix’ and ‘Star Trek’.

We do talk with younger people at our meetings. At MacValley, all age groups are welcome.

Who needs us? How about your Mom? Your Grandpa? Your Aunt Nellie? Or your kid sister who’s always making frantic calls, yelling for help with her latest Mac snafu.

At MacValley, we provide a space where people of all skills levels can feel welcome, where they’ll be treated like intelligent human beings. And in the Mac world, that can be hard to find.

This means we’re providing valuable services to the entire Mac community. By being inclusive, rather than exclusive, User Groups are helping to make sure that anyone who has paid the premium price for an iMac, or a Mac laptop, or an iPad, will be getting more of their money’s worth out of an expensive piece of Mac equipment. In addition, they’ll have that sense of security that comes from being a part of a Mac Support Group, with folks who are more than willing to share their Mac know-how with others.

Every little bit of help and support does count.

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