It is probably good for adults and youth to have a place where they can go and just hang out with some friends. Hanging out should take place somewhere that is convenient and comfortable for everyone in their group. It may be public, like a restaurant or bar, private, like a VFW post or special club, or semi public, like a church or synagogue or mosque. It may be the home of one of the group to which everyone seems to gravitate.
For this type of gathering there is probably no one “in charge”, although there is probably a “host”, if the group meets in someone’s home. There is probably no “official” schedule for meetings of the group, but everyone in the group understands when individuals are usually getting together. Basically the activity of this type of group gathering is very unstructured and informal, except for those activities that promote the common friendship and personal support that is the reason for coming together.
There are probably no “official” rules for such gatherings of friends as they hang out with each other, but some basic rules are probably clearly understood by everyone in the group. One of these is a rule of privacy that what happens and is shared in the group stays in the group. Individuals trust each other not to “gossip” about what they are sharing with each other.
Hanging out …Illegally?
For the benefit of civic order neither the group or any of its members should be regularly engaged in “illegal” activities. This factor marks the difference between a group that can have positive benefits for its participants and a group that is only a gang of individuals that is out to impose its selfish and brutal will on others.
That is why another one of the basic rules for the positive gathering of friends who just get together to hang out with each other is a rule against compulsion, which means that no one should be forced to participate in any activity or discussion that is contrary to their free choice. Yet, this rule against compulsion has a flip side to it that states that everyone should respect the personal rights and freedom of each friend in the group. This means that individuals have a right to be “different” and to hold different opinions about various matters without such differences becoming personal points of verbal abuse or criticism. Different opinions can thus be discussed without the differences becoming “personal”.
Such groups of friends with which individuals choose to hang out are probably never going to very large, maybe at the most 25-30 individuals. It is difficult to maintain an ongoing consistent friendly relationship with too many individuals at the same time. Such relationships just require a lot of time and energy, which can’t be spread too far. So it is recognized and accepted that within such gatherings of friends it is OK for individuals to have some specially selected individuals who are their personal clique. And the existence of such cliques and the activities and sharing that takes place within them is not seen to hamper or to threaten the bonds of friendship that extend throughout the larger group as they hang out together. It is OK for the same individuals to sit together at the same table at each meeting.
I could suggest some other “rules” and guiding principles for the operation of such gatherings of friends as they hang out together, but I invite you to make any additions to those above that you care to make. What do you think are the positive benefits that come from a gathering of individuals who just like to hang out together? What makes such hanging out together good? What can hamper or damage such groups? Let’s talk about this.