Author Archives: Stephen Sutherland

About Stephen Sutherland

I've found my dream job in founding Social Circle. Having met people from across the globe, travelling and experiencing many, many different cultures, I can speak with almost anyone and drum up a conversation in any situation.However, being Scottish probably means I'm also full of waffle. I've always found assisting in the enhancement of people's social lives very rewarding. Two kids also help to keep me grounded.

What’s Your “Social Status”, and What Does It Say About You?

Are you letting machines take over your life? Find out what to do about it.

Many of you will have seen (or perhaps heard) the famous Einstein quote on technology.

manchester events social circle einstein quote

As the genius’s prediction has proven to be fairly accurate thus far, it may appear all doom and gloom for the future of Manchester socialising. But is there hope? Hmmm…maybe!

The irony is that you probably saw that very quote on your Facebook timeline while scrolling on your mobile phone, ignoring your friends in the same room who were sat right next to you doing the exact same thing. 

Einstein’s “Idiots” comment may seem harsh, but then who am I to tell Einstein who is or isn’t a idiot?

manchester events social circle people mobile phone
Improve Your Social Skills author David Wendler weighed in:

“I think social media has made us more connected, but made the connection more superficial. Facebook allows you to stay updated on the lives of your childhood friends or your neighbours from years past, but there’s a difference between being updated and being intimate. Instead of spending time making real-world connections, people spend their time on social media, and that leads to them feeling less connected overall”.

Of course, it isn’t just our social lives that have been dominated by technology. Many aspects of our daily routine have fallen foul to the machine.

Even exercise has been made convenient, thanks to the Wii. Now we can even play tennis without leaving home (15-love to technology). 

Think back to those occasions when we played board games with family and friends, and dare I say it, even visited the outside world once in a while.

Now video games rule, as we often spend time interacting with people whom we never see (except, of course, if we add them as a “friend” on Facebook, in which case, we at least get to see their face).

Does our social life in Manchester now consist of taking a selfie on the way home and posting it online so our other Manchester friends can comment on it? manchester events social circle leading social networks
Did you just embarrass yourself online?

It could be argued that social media makes life easier. And in some ways, that’s true: you don’t need to bother putting on your new dress for a night of socialising in Manchester. Instead, you can simply opt for pyjamas and ice-cream.

However, it isn’t as relaxing as all that. Studies have shown that we get anxious as to how we present ourselves through social media.

  • “Will they think I’m weird if I post this?”.
  • “Oh no, I’d better delete that comment on Sarah’s photo, she may take it the wrong way”.
  • “I want to show off my bikini body to my friends but what will my boss think?”.

And then, of course, there is the dreaded ‘seen’ tick, which indicates when your message has been read. It’s only dreaded, of course, when that person hasn’t replied immediately. And I do mean immediately. If they haven’t replied within seconds, is it that we have typed something utterly ridiculous? “Oh no, what if they don’t reply?”.

And what about those who we have sent a friend request to? Anxiety over who is and who isn’t following you back can lead to awkwardness the next time we meet them in real life.

manchester events social circle crying
In some cases, the visibility of our thoughts and feelings on social media can cause yet more social tension. We sometimes find ourselves shocked at our friend’s political, or even sporting, alliances, and are at that point, somewhat less inclined to want to socialise with them. Whereas, in an actual conversation, perhaps we would take the time to listen and better understand their view.

When exactly did our social lives get sucked into cyberspace?

Remember Friends United? How about MySpace? Well, Facebook arrived in 2004, combining the strengths of those two platforms and has dominated social media ever since.

Twitter made its debut in 2006 for those with short attention spans, and Instagram took the concept of “selfie” to a whole new level.

With FourSquare, Snapchat, and countless other social media phenomenons seeming to be cropping up all of the time, the opportunity to socialise online is greater than it has ever been.

manchester socialising social media timeline
Slaves to media

What is the difference between your Manchester social life and social media? It’s media, of course. Doh! And media has been ruling our attention long before Facebook.

After all, we live in a media-driven world. Think about it? What do you talk about with your friends? What happened in Corrie the night before? How about Eastenders? And now, it seems that reality TV has taken over much of our media consumption.

Facebook meal for one

“Our society today is not moving around anymore.  We live in a box life – box breakfast, box car, box office, box lunch, box music, type and message in a box and then finally go home to your box house and watch the box TV.” Tony Robbins

Think back to those moments in your life you treasure the most. Were those moments shared with friends and family or were they at home updating your Facebook status? 

Now think about that night you spent at home with your mobile device and a microwave meal for one. Sure, it was easy. But it’s probably a night you will forget in a hurry.

What do we have to talk about any more at work on Monday morning? You know what David had for dinner and you have seen all of Rachel’s holiday snaps. And there’s no point in bringing them up in conversation because you already did that when you commented on them on Facebook.

A 2013 study published by the Public Library of Science, conducted by Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan and Philippe Verduyn of Leuven University in Belgium, revealed that the more time someone spends on Facebook, the less satisfaction that person has with life.

An article from The Economist commented on the findings:

“Those who used Facebook a lot were more likely to report a decline in satisfaction than those who visited the site infrequently. In contrast, there was a positive association between the amount of direct social contact a volunteer had and how positive he felt. In other words, the more volunteers socialised in the real world, the more positive they reported feeling the next time they filled in the questionnaire”.

A separate study conducted by strategic insight agency Opinium revealed that one in five people said they felt depressed when seeing their friends’ lives on social media.

The alarming statistic equates to 6.9 million people constantly comparing themselves to their friends’ posts, and presenting their own lives through frequent updates.


How does social media affect your social skills?

If, as the study revealed, your mood is adversely affected by an overdose of social media, it’s hard to be at your best, socially.

As a socially awkward generation, it may then be time to think about updating our social skills, rather than our social status.

Stephen Sutherland, founder of Manchester’s social and adventure network, Social Circle, has seen how the advent of social media has affected socialising in Manchester and has vowed to ensure we don’t lose grip on our social reality altogether.

“It’s harder than it once was to reach out to people, as more and more have opted for a lifestyle of TV and Facebook. I repeatedly push the message that we only have one life and that we need to live it to the full”.

It’s not all bad, however, as Social Circle has an increasing membership base, with more and more people looking to inject some zest into their social life; a possible sign of a backlash to an online world.

David Wendler, who also runs improveyoursocialskills.com

“I think we’re already seeing a movement of people wanting to experience more in-person connections and distance themselves from social media. I’ve read about “unplugging” camps where people pay money to live in a cabin for a few days without any access to digital devices, or social events where people are required to leave their phones behind. It’s still in the early stages, but as people become more and more aware of some of the downsides of the digital age, they’ll discover new ways of reconnecting with each other”.

manchester events gin tasting
So, is social media all bad?

The next time you meet someone, and they say ‘Find me on Facebook’, why not ask for their number instead? Go on, I dare you!

Social media a useful tool. It’s a great way to reconnect with old friends. It’s an easy way to create events and arrange get-togethers. And it’s far easier to keep in touch with friends and family living on the other side of the world. Rewind about 20 years, and the choice was either to send a message by the painfully slow snail mail system or commit your life savings to British Telecom.

But like any other technology, it makes us lazy. And when it comes to less socialising, that presents a real danger.

Wendler added:

“I think people need offline opportunities to connect with each other. There’s no substitute for face-to-face time with another human being. But we need to go beyond just bringing people together. In chemistry, there’s this idea of a catalyst, which is a substance that facilitates a chemical reaction. We need to find the catalysts that facilitate human connection — look for the experiences or activities that bring people together, and invite people into them. In other words, we need to ask “Can we discover (or rediscover) the activities that bring people together, or the experiences that connect people when they are shared?” The more we discover and spread connection catalysts, the more we will be able to combat the superficiality of social media and truly bring people closer together”.

If you like your socialising in Manchester to be more about meeting people rather than poking them online (do people even do that any more?), Social Circle affords you that opportunity through its 150+ events per month.

Whether you are introverted and need some gentle encouragement, or you just can’t get enough of meeting new people, Social Circle is the perfect antidote to the social machine.

Do you have a strategy for your Manchester social life?

‘Strategy’, like sales, marketing etc. is one of those buzzwords that we associate with business. manchester social life strategyBut when you think about it, businesses are a lot like people. We need to grow and learn from our mistakes, promote ourselves by how we look and through our interactions, and sell our ideas to people. Even if you’ve convincing your best friend to go to a specific bar at the weekend, you’re selling them on the idea of going to that specific bar. But what we sometimes forget is our overall strategy to be successful in life. The fact is that every area of our life needs a strategy. And our social life is no exception. So what is your strategy for your Manchester social life?

Firstly, look at your circle of friends and ask yourself how many you see on a regular basis? Do you see, and enjoy social nights and activities, with them frequently? Or do you see them less often because they have moved on, either literally moved to a new city, or have entered a relationship and just don’t have the free time that they used to? So your social circle is very much at the heart of your social strategy. And if you don’t have friends to socialise with regularly, you need to fix that.

The other key part of your social strategy is your social calendar. Are you really spending your evenings and weekends enjoying the activities that you would really like to do? If not, it may just be that your current circle of friends don’t enjoy those activities. But socialising isn’t fun unless you’re doing what you enjoy with friends you love. So what’s the solution?

Social Circle is for those who wish to meet new people on activities they enjoy. For the past 8 years, we have mastered the art of social introductions and have seen countless friendships develop. Try a free event on us to see how Social Circle can enhance your social strategy.

A New Manc’s Guide to Manchester- Events, Venues, and More

love manchester things to do
Manchester maybe known for being a sporting hub, thanks to the global popularity of Manchester United and the rising prominence of its blue counterpart. However, it is also one of the largest cities in the UK; second in terms of population, in fact. So when you are new to such a thriving city, how do you navigate without getting lost and what can you expect from your new home? Here are a few handy notes on Manchester events, venues, and more.

  1. You will soon consider it homeIt’s hard to live in Manchester without it’s very core sinking deep into your bones. One day, sooner than you think, you will leave town for a day and find that you long to go back home to good ol’ Manchester. The music, the nightlife, the people…all of those things you may have initially found daunting, will pull you right on in.
  2. Meeting people is easy. And they’re some of the friendliest people you will want to meet.While Manchester is a large city and a cultural hotbed, it isn’t so full of itself that you will get lost in the hype. The people here are warm and friendly and will make you feel right at home.
  3. You can learn to make your way around central Manchester in no time at allMaking your way from one area in the city centre to the next is a breeze and there is always something to see. From the trendy and eclectic Norther Quarter to the shopping beacon of the Arndale Centre and the upmarket King Street to the commercial and restaurant hub Spinningfields, you will know where you are going in no time. Along the way, you will see quirky shops, as well as the more common chains for the commercially minded, independent and chain bars and restaurants, and maybe even a celebrity or two.
  4. You will be proud of being a Manc As an adopted citizen of Manchester, you will begin to feel  a healthy hatred of anyone who dares to say a bad word against your new, beloved city. That is especially the case if they’re from Down South. Not to confuse you, there is also a thriving cosmopolitan scene. Such as is the brilliance of the city, they too tend to become proper Mancs, sooner or later. 
  5. It rivals London as the UK’s media hub. Since the BBC moved here properly and we now not only have the likes of Coronation Street and Jeremy Kyle being filmed here regularly, shows such as The Voice often make their way down from the capital to allow fans to be studio guests for the day.

For those of you have recently moved to the city, click here to download our free guide on making the most out of this fab city.

Ohhh Vienna…a truly cultural Manchester group holiday

manchester group holiday sviennaVienna is a city that is difficult to beat for culture. So if you’re looking for a Manchester group holiday that is as cultural as it is fun and social, you just may have landed on the perfect city.

Walking in Vienna makes you feel like you’re taking part in a fairy tale, as a you gaze upon the horse and carriage trotting past you. A background of Baroque architecture and imperial history, with Strauss and Mozart providing the soundtrack, is a truly amazing experience; and one that you can only have in Vienna.

However, Vienna isn’t all about history. There’s also much to appreciate in the present. Modernist art and Art Nouveau adds a more modern touch to the city, without losing the emphasis on culture.

Vienna’s culture, however, isn’t limited to art. The city has been know for its café culture, namely coffee and cakes, for centuries. To live like the locals, finding one of the local favourite cafes and tasting Viennese coffee and cake is a must. While those that reside her may grab a coffee on the way to work, it is far more pleasant to enjoy it socially. Coffee Pirates, Demel, and Cafe Museum are among the local favourites.

MuseumsQuarter is a Viennese institution and one that any visitor should not miss. It is among the world’s largest cultural sites and is home to century old art, modern pieces, and everything in between. Highlights include the Leopold Museum, which houses numerous famous pieces of Austrian art, and MUMOK, one of the city’s more well-known contemporary and mdoern art museums.

If you would like to explore Europe’s true capital of culture, and meet some like-minded people at the same time, join us this October for a 4-day trip to Vienna. Click here for more details.