An Open Letter to Mensa

I thank you for notifying me that my membership with American Mensa has lapsed. While I believe Mensa to be a fine organization, I do not feel that the local chapter, MoNNY, has enough to suitably engage my appetite for intellectual stimulation in the limited amount of time that I have for recreation.

While in my late 20's I took the Mensa entrance exam out of curiosity. After passing the exam and joining, I was rather underwhelmed by the local group. My first experience with them was, as is now common, their website. Allow me to share with you the MoNNY site from May of 2008, courtesy of Archive.org's Wayback Machine. (It has since been revamped somewhat fortunately.)

Quite sad, wouldn't you say? Not out of place 10 years earlier, eh?

Ok, after deciding that it could be worse (not a blink tag, goofy gif animation, or scrolling marquee to be seen), and that I immediately have something to bring to the group, I decided to meet the group at an appropriately-named "Newcomers Dinner". To date, this remains one of the single most memorably boring events of my life. Sure, there are plenty of meetings or conference calls at work that don't seem to require my presence, but this is different. This is something which is supposed to be fun, intellectually stimulating, and to which I'd paid a membership dues. Not to mention paying for dinner.

After a brief introduction of the 10-12 of us, discussion centered on the past 50 years of politics and political tendencies of Rotterdam, NY (a town of about 30,000), the deteriorating conditions of the town's roads, and past and upcoming MoNNY letter-stuffing meetings. The most intellectually-stimulating part of the dinner meeting was at the end. Twenty minutes of dividing the check, as this forum of intellectual crème' had chosen the first restaurant that I'd come across in at least 5 years that couldn't split a check into individuals. That, and my 30-minute drive home.

Given the experience that I had, and the descriptions of the other main meeting (the letter stuffing), I opted to suffer boredom only at work (only as needed, of course), and provide my own intellectual stimulation. While I can't blame the organization as a whole for my own lack of a good time, I hope that you can see why I would opt out of further attendance.

As I've said, I believe Mensa to be a fine organization. Unfortunately I do not have the time to give it a fair shake.

My years of service in the Marine Corps instilled in me the ethic that 'you can't gripe unless you have a solution.' In that view, and because I care, I have some suggestions to offer in the interest of improving the organization. These would go a long way toward me considering reenrolling (in no particular order):
-Encouraging the 'Welcoming Committee' to be comprised of fun, energetic people.
-More public exposure of Mensa to the media and the world. At present, the only way that I find news including Mensa is if I seek it out. Your organization has little outreach or visibility to the general public. Even if the word "Mensa" is mentioned, few know what it is; in my experience is that only about 10-20% of the population knows.
-Shift the focus from Games / Amusement / Entertainment. While I think that these are valuable and actually necessary, there are more than enough problems in this world that even a portion of our collective mindshare could be focused on.
-Toward this last goal, I would love to see a partnership between Mensa and TED. This is an organization which showcases and highlights the movers and shakers of the world displaying the future. (In light of the previous item, please note that the 'E' stands for Entertainment.)

I understand that my needs are not at all representative of the general population, and may not be welcome with your organization. I mean no offense; I merely offer my opinions for improvement. With these changes implemented, I believe that Mensa could improve immeasurably in almost every way. I believe that it would gain renewed respect from the non-Mensan "Geniuses" who see Mensa as mostly interested in playing games, worldwide exposure and renown, and a surge of eager new membership.

Not to mention helping to Change the World.

Respectfully Submitted,
H. "Waldo" G.

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