This question may seem a bit random, but I just recently read that people "become more like the 5 people they spend the most time with." And supposedly this is especially true for work ethic and learning skills.
I want to become a better programmer but I don't have too many friends that like to program in their free time. I wasn't a CS major (I didn't take my first CS class until summer as a rising senior) so I didn't meet many programmers in school, and I recently graduated and landed a job as a junior developer, but covid has kept me from meeting many coworkers, and most new hires seem more interested in just getting the paycheck.
I'm curious how common it is to have these "hobby friends" and where I could meet people.
Like you I have no formal CS education. Some of my happiest times were finding myself in small teams of smart experience software engineers who were enthusiastic about what they were creating. They had an interest in getting me up to speed and kept an eye on what I was doing. It's great working with a team where we can all rag on each others code, hone and perfect things, everyone on on the same wave length as it were. With out any egotistical prima donnas out to make themselves look good, or others bad.
Of course that was all decades ago and in person. I can't imagine how I would of gotten on so well if I had to work with such a team remotely.
Over the decades I have almost never worked on programming problems/projects with people out of the work place. Or even discussed such things. There were precious few programmers in my social circles. There are a lot more about now a days I guess.
Except, in recent years I have on occasion found my self discussing some hobby project of mine on various forums and been pleasantly surprised how people from all. over the world have popped up to offer suggestions and actual code to improve things. Wonderful.
Depending on where you live and what your interests are you may find that there are local groups getting together to discuss all kind of programming languages and software technologies. Sadly not in person at this time.
Coworkers and forums like this are the closest I have at the moment. Also a few friends who program, but our hangs are rarely about programming. We do share our hobby programs with each other from time to time. Sometimes I do online programming challenges or exercises, but that's a pretty solo activity.
The Rust community page has a calendar of meetups. Maybe there's a Rust group near you. The chat platforms are another option. If you know other languages or specialized interests, they may have their own groups too.
I guess I have always known and hung out with some programmers. More so in recent years. Typically though we are working in very different domains, different languages, etc. Mostly we get on like normal humans only occasionally exchanging war stories of pernicious bugs that we vanquished or management tomfoolery. Sometimes been a helpful resource when looking for a new job....
I know a guy who works on ship simulation software in Fortran. A neighbour is a wiz at optimising systems using Oracle databases. Another has been a COBOL programmer for 40 years. Not much in common to chew on there.