‘My Bff is a serial killer.’ The Dark Side of Social Apps

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The last few years has seen a rise in social apps, where you can meet new people at the click of a button. It seems a great idea to make socialising easy. But are they really the best way to make new friends?  Will swiping right lead you to meeting your soul sister or will your new BFF be a serial killer or crazy stalker. We give you the good, the bad and the ugly so you can reach your own conclusions. Our research makes one thing clear:Using Social Apps has a dark side.

The need for friendship.

Research suggests quality relationships with friends are correlated to increased wellbeing. Friendship is a major predictor of happiness, says Meliksah Demir, a psychology professor at Northern Arizona University who edited Friendship and Happiness, Across the Life-Span and Cultures. “In every age group, friendship quality, friendship satisfaction, intimacy and support are all positively correlated with individual happiness,”

Lets face it, whilst our cry-for-help facebook status may get a number of sympathetic likes, it can be increasingly difficult to find new friends as we get older.

 Changing jobs, locations and breakdowns in relationships can all cost us friendships.

In a digital age, it is not a surprise that we would reach for our phones and Ipads when we want to connect with people.  Apps like Bumble BFF and MeetUp.com have become go-to sources to people seeking friendship.

The Good: I met my Best Friend Through an App.

Bumble t launched Bumble BFF where people can connect for platonic friendship. One success story is  tells of how several women connected and now do everything from 5k’s to champagne tasting together. #SquadGoals indeed.  Now other apps are following suit, using algorithms and location to bring potential buddies together.

One thing that became apparent on many of these apps is you can only create platonic friendships with members of the same sex.

We get that this is a safety feature.

It seems such as shame that these apps perpetuate the view that the opposite sex is just for that…sex.  It rules out any meaningful friendships you could have had, that started out by meeting in person

Plus, how can you know who makes a good friend from a picture?

We find our friends in unlikely places and people. Only looking for people of the same gender, same age with similar interests would rule out the friendships we have.  That would seem a shame. Judging people on a short bio and a photo seems somewhat fickle and has an air of Mean Girls about it.

Swiping on potential friends makes us feel like Regina George

Swiping on potential friends makes us feel like Regina George

The Bad.  When Its Not just Friendship they Want 

Where there are people, there are also the creeps.

You only need to turn to Reddit, Trustpilot and SiteJabber to see the horror stories for yourselves.

One user on Trust Pilot tells of a MeetUp group that was advertised as a language group for expats. Instead of focusing on language, the organisor would creep on the girls.  Henri describes the organisor as offering free drinks to girls who would dance with him.

Of course it is not just women who are falling prey to unwanted advances.

 

Some of the Reviews of MeetUp tell a cautionary tale...

Some of the Reviews of MeetUp tell a cautionary tale…

A Reddit user tells of going to a writers group. He found himself  stalked on facebook by a group member who would constantly message him.  Whilst this may not be the worst tale of woe, it is disturbing behaviour and not what you would expect of someone seeking friendship.

How did this creep get their contact details?

Easy, when you connect via these platforms your social media is fair game to everyone in the group, including the organisors.

These groups, on MeetUp.com and similar, can be run by Anyone.

Let us repeat.

Anyone.

 

The Ugly.  The Best things in life are (Not) Free.

MeetUp advertises itself as free to join and to socialise.  Just download the Social App and get started.  Disturbingly, there are a surprising number of horror stories from people have been fleeced of their hard-earned cash.

Let us explain how this happens.

If you cannot find a group that caters to your needs it is very easy to start your own group.  Just name your group, write a description of who you want to meet and then…

What?  You have to pay $9.99 and $14.99 per month to run a group?!

A trend we see in reviews is that there is little support for organisers and delays in events appearing on the website have resulted in people feeling fleeced of their cash.   This is a real shame, as there are plenty of opportunities for people who love socialising and are great at organising events that sees them rewarded for their efforts.

Reddit is littered with stories from attendees who think they are going to a free event but then find themselves having to pay hidden costs or subjected to marketing spiel from those who are using MeetUp as a low cost way to network. .

Whilst there are good people running quality groups.

There will also be people who just want to take your money and run.

It can be difficult to tell which is which.

Hillary Buck  left a 1 star review for a MeetUp group called Travel Buddies which organises short and long haul trips abroad. Her review says it all.

Buyer beware. It sounds as if these peeps didn't get what they paid for.

Buyer beware. It sounds as if these peeps didn’t get what they paid for.

These people paid to stay in Krakow.  The organiser did not deliver. They had to pay extra. Yet they  have absolutely no recourse?!  Disgraceful. Especially considering there are there are professional companies like Flashpack offering fully-insured singles holidays abroad.   

This is not an isolated incident either, we have first hand experience of a Social Circle member joining us after his MeetUP walking group left him stranded on Ben Nevis.  It was an unfortunate time to find that the leader had no first aid training, no insurance and little experience in leading these types of walks.

If you want to use social apps to meet new people who share similar interests; stay safe. Make sure you meet in public places. Let people where you are going and follow your instincts.  

Likewise, make sure any group activities are organised by a reputable organiser or company  If you are going on holidays or taking part in activities that involve risk – ask to see their insurance, their qualifications and check out other members testimonials before a cheap holiday costs you more than you bargained for.

What are your experiences of meeting friends on social media?

 

Is Laughter the best medicine? Yes, but watch out for side effects!

Is laughter the best medicine. Turns out laughing has some surprising effects.

Is laughter the best medicine. Turns out laughing has some surprising effects.

It is a saying that is as old as time itself.  Laughter is the best medicine. Even Lord Byron was quoted as saying you should laugh as often as possible, as it is a cheap medicine.  Most of us enjoy a good chuckle, but is it really a miracle cure-all? Well turns out the men (and women) in white coats conclude that laughter really is one of the best medicines available. 

There is a wealth of scientific research available on the internet, from research stating that laughter is essential part of preventing heart disease, increasing resilience to serious illnesses such as cancer,  to its well known positive effects on mental health and seems to be the secret to leading a long and happy life.

Phew!

All this from something you have been doing since you were about 3 months old. If only we knew this wealth of research when we found ourselves in detention for being the class clown.  

Did you hear about the introvert that held a party? Nobody was invited.

Whilst for some, the thought of a group outing can be more uncomfortable than having your prostate prodded, it seems that scrolling through memes or watching re-runs of classic comedy alone does not cut the mustard. If you want to get the full benefit of all those feel-good hormones when you are feeling blue then you are best heading out to a group setting. Psychology Today says that Laughter is essential for social bonding and maintaining good relationships, and is so essential that it is actually a reflex.  This would explain why laughter in a group setting or audience is so contagious.

Well if laughter is the best medicine, what are the possible side effects?

In a  particularly Scrooge-like Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal, authors Robin Ferner and Jeffrey Aronson came up with 15 unfortunate side effects from laughing.

“It turns out that what is called ‘the best medicine’ occasionally causes harm,” Ferner, a clinical pharmacologist, told TIME.  “Most of the time it makes people happy, but every now and again it kills them.”  

Oh Ferner, you are literally killing me.

Personally, if I am going to pop my clogs,  I would much rather go out laughing than any other way.  

Plus all medicine has side effects, how bad can laughing really be?

Apart from the occasional death from humour-induced heart attacks,  the more common risks of laughing include inhalation of foreign objects like gum and popcorn, actually peeing your pants, and ‘weakened resolve.’  We are unsure as to why this last effect may be a bad thing,especially if it increases your chances of scoring a date.

Like all medicine, turns out there are risks.  However, we feel the benefits of a longer life, better emotional resilience, stronger relationships and healthier heart outweigh tte small risk of death.  Take that Ferner! *blows raspberry*.  

Careful lads! all that laughing could kill you.

Careful lads! all that laughing could kill you.

But how do I get my fix? 

Oh let us count the ways…. 4 ways in fact, that you can get your funny fix.

  1. Laughter Yoga.

Yes, you heard that right.  Laughter Yoga is actually a thing.  Apparently forced laughter has just as many benefits as spontaneous laughter.  From the Youtube videos, laughter yoga looks like my idea of personal hell. Chasing balloons, leaping around, pulling faces and speaking gibberish to strangers is not my idea of fun. Nope.  However, I also note that Isabelle Gerretson had the same fears when she had to carry out some practical research on Laughter Yoga for the Independant.  Turns out she had a ridiculous amount of fun, and left feeling relaxed and energised.

 

2. Watch a funny movie or play.

It may sound obvious, but maybe you just need reminding that taking time out to laugh uis just what you need.  Why not invite a good friend round, choose your poison from one of the many brilliant movies and series on Netflix and get chortling. Given the obvious health risks of laughing, you may want to skip the popcorn. 

Social Circle loved The Play that goes Wrong.

Social Circle loved The Play that goes Wrong.

Social Circle recently went to see the Play that Goes Wrong by  Mischief Theatre at the Opera House. Tears were shed, ribs ended up sore from laughing, and a good time was had by all.  You will be glad to know that the same theatre company are performing ‘A Comedy about a Bank Robbery’ at the Lowry theatre from 11- 15 September 2018.

3. Go to a comedy club.

If your funny bone is in need of a serious tickle, then you will be glad to know that Manchester has a number of comedy venues that can provide you with some much needed humour.

Early in the week, Xs Malarky run cheap nights showcasing up and coming acts on the comedy circuit. Mid-week, take yourself to the Frog and Bucket where you can order a curry and beer as a side to five acts of comedy or one of the comedy nights at your local pub.  If that isn’t enough then head out to the Comedy Store at the weekends to catch the big name acts.

Psst!! – Want to go to a comedy club and meet new people with your kind of humour? How about if we told you it was free?  Click here to find out more.

4.Turn Humour into a Holiday.

Sometimes you just need to get away from the grind and enjoy a weekend away from your troubles.  We can’t think of a better way to relax than to explore a new city and catch a comedy festival. In fact, it has become a  Social Circle tradition to spend the August bank holiday at the Fringe festival in Edinburgh. Steve organises it all, from the 4* accommodation to the fine dining.   This year we danced in the street to silent discos, used our mobile apps to generate laughs in Foxdog’s Studio’s  Robot Chef and had the privilege of seeing award winning comedians such as Harriet Kemsley and Mat Ewins. Of course, we also got to scratch our culture itch, by seeing the Tattoo, meeting emerging and established authors at the Edinburgh Book Festival.  

Social Circle @ Edinburgh Festival 2018.

Social Circle @ Edinburgh Festival 2018.

So what tickles your funny bone? Tell us your best anecdote, joke or even just share a meme in the comments.

Road Trip Along the North Coast 500 (Part 2)

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There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road, and this summer Social Circle took off on a unforgettable road trip along the North Coast 500. In Part 2  of our adventure journal, we took in the rugged coastline as we travelled the final few hundred miles down from Lochinver to the Isle of Skye

Need to catch up? – you can read Part 1 of our road trip here.

Day Five: Lochinver – Gairloch  91.5 Miles

Scotland would not be the same without its castles, and our early morning drive north took us to the scenic Ardvreck Castle, a ruined 16th century fortification, and the remains of Calda House.

We stopped at Inchnadamph, to follow the beautiful and popular walk up through a limestone valley to the dramatic bone cave. We also paused at Achiltibuie, a picturesque and often-overlooked part of the route where calm waters meet the mountains in the horizon.

There is nothing ugly about Corrieshalloch Gorge

There is nothing ugly about Corrieshalloch Gorge

Our afternoon was spent exploring Corrieshalloch Gorge.  Corrieshalloch may mean ‘Ugly Hollow’ in Gaelic, but there is nothing ugly about this beautiful Nature Reserve. We found a deep tree-shrouded chasm, rich in flora and fauna, with tumbling waterfalls and fern-lined trails.  A beauty spot that was a welcome contrast to the rugged Highland wilderness that surrounds it.

As we continued our journey, the views include the distinctive profile of Suilven,  the mountains of Coigach, including – we think – a glimpse of the top of Stac Pollaidh. We passed more sandy beaches and waterfalls before stopping at the Isle of Ewe, with its pretty houses scattered like sugar lumps around the Loch.  It is well worth visiting the Isle of Ewe smokehouse, we picked up some beautifully smoked salmon as well as other smoked yumminess to enjoy as we explored the area.

Day Six. Gairloch – Applecross. 62 Miles

We spent a lot of time on our feet yesterday, so we were grateful for lie-in and an easier day on this part of the route.

Our morning was spent at  the Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve in Kinlochewe. With a cluster of mountain peaks, ancient pinewoods and soaring golden eagles it is no wonder that Beinn Eighe was chosen as Britain’s first National nature reserve.  We took our time on the trails, and saw a few deer grazing by the loch.  

Applecross is a delight for those who like gardens and home-grown food. This victorian walled-garden was teaming with flowers and dragonflies.   We enjoyed tea and home-baked scones at the Potting Shed Cafe – which is literally a potting shed – before moving onto the local croft brewery to sample some craft ales.

Day Seven: Applecross to The Isle of Skye

If there’s one thing about Skye that’ll leave a lasting impression on you, it’s got to be the scenery. Just driving around, you can see many of Skye’s most majestic geological features, such as the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and the Cuillin.  Make sure you have sturdy boots and your camera is fully charged, as the views are truly breathtaking.

 

Day Eight: The Journey Home.  After leaving the Isle of Skye we started out-reluctantly – on the journey home.  It was a useful time to catch up with Steve and the others about what they thought about the trip. 

Our host for the trip, Stephen Sutherland, had this to say.

“I think this has been the best trip Social Circle has offered in the ten years I have been hosting holidays.  It was absolutely epic. I got to tick off a few things from my bucket list. I am really happy to share this amazing experience with Social Circle members.

 

Steve also recorded a video on Day 5 which you can view  here

Well it looks like Steve had fun, but what did our Guests say?

Angela says

“I enjoyed an amazing holiday with Social Circle on the  great North Coast 500 Scottish Road Trip. The road coastal scenery was breathtaking  and panoramic views spectacular, especially enjoyable when Steve was doing all the driving. It exceeded all expectations! The holiday was a great mix of walks along white sandy beaches,  beautiful mountain ranges, exploring castles, visiting the smoo caves and drinking the most gorgeous hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain. Steve was an amazing host, ensuring we enjoyed the most of each day with fine eateries , drink and fun in the evenings! We stayed in lovely accommodation, my favourite being Ackergill Tower where we enjoyed evening drinks overlooking the sea.   I was asked what was my favourite thing on the holiday ? Was it visiting Culloden Battlefield?  Dunrobin Castle? Duncansby Stacks – a geological marvel?  Clashnessie Falls?  The Isle of Skye? the I still haven’t made my mind up!  This was a holiday of a lifetime and I can’t recommend it enough!

Steve W  says

The Scotland trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see so many lovely sights, from postcard villages, amazing stately home/castles to the outstanding scenic views which for me made the trip and to which my photos cannot do justice to, also John O’Groats was a real treat.

SM says.

“An extraordinary adventure of extraordinary scenery and sights. You often find it hard to believe this is on the same island as Manchester. The north of Scotland has a mystery about it. Time slows. The views change every few minutes. Highlights for me included the beautiful remote beaches, castles by Loch and shore, good food and drink … And the company was great too!”

Our fellow travellers loved North Coast 500.

Our fellow travellers loved North Coast 500.

Do you love the idea of getting away for a few days on a road trip of your own?

Finding it difficult to organise?

Are your friends busy or not interested in your type of holiday?

We offer the perfect solution.  We organise numerous holidays for like-minded people each year, to such destinations throughout Europe. Find out more  here

Many thanks to North Coast 500 for the suggested itinerary, and of course to all those lovely people who looked after our little group on the way.

Road Trip along North Coast 500. (Part 1)

Social Circle went on a Road Trip along the North Coast 500

Social Circle went on a Road Trip along the North Coast 500

Imagine spending eight days and nights touring some of Scotland’s finest coastal scenery taking in the rugged mountains, tranquil beaches and ancient history, There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road, and this summer Social Circle took off on a unforgettable adventure along the North Coast 500.  

It all began on a cold wet day in January…

The mighty few had gathered at Social Circle HQ to thrash out ideas for  various holidays and weekend breaks that we cram into our Calendar. Of course, being a Scot himself, Steve told us all about the North Coast 500 and volunteered to take members on the road trip of a lifetime.   

#NC500 Mascot Bonnie is ready for an adventure!

#NC500 Mascot Bonnie is ready for an adventure!

Maybe it was the rain beating against the windows, but some of us were somewhat sceptical. Steve was having none of it, he wanted to tick a couple of places off his bucket list, and assured us that by June, the weather wouldn’t be that bad.

Before we knew it, Steve had found 4 travelling buddies from Social Circle plus Bonnie the Bear volunteered to act as the Road Trip Mascot. As we could only cram so many people in the car, we thought we would revisit the memories in this  little two part diary to inspire your own adventure.

Exploring the the North Coast 500

With suggested itineraries to appeal to foodies, nature lovers and adrenaline junkies, there are many ways to discover route NC500.  We love our home comforts as much as we love adventure, so we took inspiration from the Luxury itinerary. We booked 4* family owned accommodation along the route.  It made exploring the Highlands all the sweeter knowing we would  have soft  bed at night and a hearty breakfast to start the day.  

Bonnie loved Cocoa Mountain in Durness

Bonnie loved Cocoa Mountain in Durness

 Steve arranged for us to dine some of the best restaurants along the NC500 so we could taste the best the highlands had to offer. He took care of all the driving meaning the non-drivers amongst us could enjoy the route too!

Day One:  Arrival in Inverness

We started our journey from East Didsbury.  After loading up with snacks and drinks for the trip, we drove up to Inverness.   We had a little roam around  the Castle before jumping on a cruise across Loch Ness.  No  monsters were found but perhaps we were merely distracted by the beautiful scenery .  We also popped into the Culloden Battlefield visitor centre to find out more about the Jacobites and harrowing and bloody battles that took place on the very ground we were stood upon.  We were all rather tired after a full days driving so after a lovely evening meal we all got an early night.

Day Two: Inverness to Wick. 103 Miles

Dunrobin Castle is a  fairy tale castle on outskirts of Golspie.

Dunrobin Castle is a  fairy tale castle on outskirts of Golspie.

The morning was all about food, ale and of course, whisky! We explored the Cromarty area, which boasts a cheese factory, a organic brewer and a distillery.  Of course we had to stop to sample a little of everything!  A short journey across to Tain took us to the famous Glenmorangie Distillery.

In the afternoon, we were blessed by the sun as we explored Golspie.  Dunrobin Castle is a  fairy tale castle where we learned a few interesting facts about Clan Sutherland.  The surrounding area is full of pinewood trees, rumbling rivers and waterfalls which made for some truly breathtaking walking.

 We finally stopped at the pretty village of Dunbeath and enjoyed a walk along the harbour and around the Castle.  Our evening was spent sampling  fine seafood at the Bay Owl Inn as we watched the sunset over the harbour.

Day Three.  Wick – Durness.  107 Miles

Ticking off the Bucket list at John O Groats!

Ticking off the Bucket list at John O Groats!

It was an early start to action-packed day of adventure.   We left Wick and followed the route to John O’Groats, the most northerly village in mainland Britain, in order to tick that of our bucket list. Of course, we had to take a few photos – it is the law*.  Looking across the water you can spot the ‘Duncansby Stacks’ poking out from the sea.

We spent the afternoon ambling around the  gardens of Castle Of Mey. The Castle was the the late Queen Mother’s home- from-home and it was easy to see why.  The Queen Mother loved roses, and the Albertine and Pride of London surround the gardens. It is the perfect place to watch the bees and butterflies buzzing around whilst enjoying a spot of afternoon tea.Talking of roses, just down the road you can enjoy  a tour of the Dunnet Bay Distillery who make the wonderful Rock Rose gin.  

 Ancient churches and ruined keeps cast shadows on t the rugged wilderness as we took the road to Durness.  A hidden gem is the tiny hamlet of Talmine, with a much-photographed boat known as ‘The Reaper’. This is particularly scenic part of the route includes the sights of Loch Eriboll, Ben Hope and Ben Loyal.

The ‘Duncansby Stacks’ reminded us of Wizard Hats!

The ‘Duncansby Stacks’ reminded us of Wizard Hats!

Day Four: Durness – Lochinver 60 Miles

Set into the limestone cliffs,  Smoo Cave is a dramatic and spectacular sea cave . According to folklore, the Smoo caves were the original health spa for Vikings taking a break from pillaging. Of course, no visit to Durness would be complete without a visit to Cocoa Mountain, the north’s premier chocolatier.

Smoo Caves are exciting whether on foot or by boat.

Smoo Caves are exciting whether on foot or by boat.

Further down the coast magnificent Torridonian sandstone cliffs rise from the Atlantic. Each summer, nearly 100,000 seabirds breed here. We saw guillemots, razorbills and great skuas nesting amongst the pretty pink  flowers that cover the cliffs.

The  unrivalled white sands and turquoise waters of  Achmelvich would have you believe we were in the Caribbean rather than Scotland!  The long summer days and warm weather was perfect for sampling homemade ice cream and topping up our tan. *sighs*

 

 

If you love nothing more than getting away for a few days but find it difficult to organise or your friends don’t share your idea of a holiday, then click here for the perfect solution. 

we think Cathy's post says it all....

We think cathy’s post says it all….

 

See here for Part 2.  In the meantime, tell us who you would take on a road trip and why?

Lonely Heart? Alone does not have to mean Lonely.

 

Yes, you can be single and not get lonely.

Yes, you can be single and not get lonely.

As Love Island finishes and churns out another hot young celebrity couple, it seems that the world is obsessed with coupledom. Despite the rising numbers of singles, we are portrayed as clueless wing-men or crying into our tubs of Ben & Jerry’s night after night.  Even scientists say we are so lonely we will die young.   Thanks for all the bullsh*t. Turns out it is easy to enjoy being single without getting lonely. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I want a relationship. Many of us do. 

 It is just that I am not prepared to settle for the same toxic behaviours that led me to spending 15 years in the wrong relationship.  Feeling lonely with the supposed love of your life next to you is Hell.   Nope. It is going to take someone incredible to make me change my single status.  But let’s be honest.

Being Single does get lonely at times.

There were times after a bad day I longed to come home to someone.  I wanted someone that would listen and care about my goals. I needed to go out and talk to someone who completely respected who I was. Don’t get me started on those times where you just need to get laid. 

But as the saying goes, there is no point wasting time wishing.

The fact is that right now. You. The person reading this. Like me. Are Single AF.  It need not be a bad thing.  The last four years have been the happiest of my life. 

How?

I learned how being alone does not have to mean lonely.

Here is how I did it.

  1. Take time to Meet the new YOU.  

If you have been in a long term relationship, then you are used to running every decision past your significant other.  From what film to watch, to bigger decisions such as the impact of career moves. Over the years you will have compromised on your goals and values at times. Maybe parts of you feel watered down, weak and unloved.

Being single removes the validation that a decision is the right or wrong one.  That is scary I admit.  But it also removes any restrictions.  This is a good thing. It is a life-affirming thing.

Think about it.

You can now be unapologetically and authentically you.

You can now go for that promotion if you want.  You can go to that fancy restaurant. You can ignore the pots and go out for a walk. You can learn Italian. You can spend all day reading – or writing – that book. You can put yourself forward for the football team, or the local theatre group.   You can say no to that film and yes to that one. You can make the decisions as to whether you should invest in property, or a new business venture, or a holiday. There are endless possibilities and no one to answer to but yourself.

You call the shots,  and in doing so, you are discovering who you really are.

In building a life that makes you happy, you feel alive rather than lonely. So take time to try out new activities or work on that breaking those bad habits. Trust me, it will pave the way to a happier future whether you are single or in a relationship.

2. Adopt a furry friend.

Life never gets lonely with a furry friend.

Life never gets lonely with a furry friend.

One of the best things I did to beat loneliness was to adopt my cat, Luna. 

Even though my sofa has been wrecked and there is fur everywhere, I adore the endless loving purrs, head butts and cuddles.   There are countless animals in shelters that desperately need loving homes. It is a two way relationship that reminds you of what love is again. Even science says that having a pet around can reduce symptoms of depression and lower blood pressure.

However, maybe owning a pet just is not practical for you. Maybe you travel away a lot or you can’t have pets in your building.  Don’t worry! One of my friends signed up to Borrow My Doggy and now has a fun-loving friend to take on walks on his days off from being a GP. Another friend adores horses but her time and money is spent on her PhD currently, so she rides as often as she can at a local riding school.

Either way, animals are a fun distraction from the single life and are good for you too!

3. Expand your Social Circle.

One the biggest challenges I faced during my relationship breakdown, was seeing how small and stagnant my circle of friends were.

Now I love my friends to bits, but a break-up changes you.

You soon feel stymied by the same old routine with the same people.  I needed to meet new people who I shared my new-found interests with.  Fortunately I bumped into Stephen at a networking ‘do’. A few cocktails later I was signing up for my first free event.  

Three years later I have social life that makes my married friends turn green with envy. Just last night I was out with an amazing bunch of people  and chatting away as we sampled the exquisite menu at Tattu in Manchester. After a hard week, it was just what I needed. We still all chat about the memories from the various weekends away we have been on. More importantly, through Social Circle, I have met a great bunch of new friends who remind me how great life can be. 

Meeting new friends at Tattu in Manchester!

Meeting new friends at Tattu in Manchester!

manchester events social circle people mobile phone

A Review of our New Website and Brand image.

 

We took on your feedback when building our new website.

We took on your feedback when building our new website. 12 months on – what do you think?

When Social Circle first started over 10 years ago, we built our brand around fun, friendship and adventure.  However, people and businesses mature and evolve and needs change. So, just over a year ago we launched our slick new website so it provided a clear message of who we are.  We look back on the past twelve months, and let you into our secret plans to make our website better than ever.

Everything Changes (but you).

Members are at the heart of everything we do. Our investment into a new brand and website was largely as a result of honest feedback from our members.  Thank you so much. We wanted to make it even easier to meet new people and connect via sharing quality time together. Social Circle is now better than ever and it is all because of our wonderful members. (No, I am not crying. You are crying.)

So here is how we made your website wishes come true.

Our Enviable Event Calendar.

We know the event calendar is everything.  You wanted more variety, more events and complete clarity on what was included in the membership.  So we gave you exactly that. Social Circle offers over 100 events every month, from cinema nights to walks in the country. We have even made it easier to satisfy that particular craving for a type of event by listing events categories.  The majority of our events are completely free to attend and our colour coded calendar makes it clear if there are any additional charges.

Everything you need to know  in a few clicks.

The old website was full of information, stories and pictures. But what started as a small site grew into a bit of a monster!  So we streamlined everything to make it easier to find your way around.

In this modern age of technology, the website is now the first way new members will connect with us.  We included our story, our philosophy and oodles of testimonials as well as clear links to our taster event.  We are pleased to see this worked, with more new members joining us this year than ever before.

Your Social Life organised on the Go.

In a few short years we have gone from clunky PC’s to organising our life on our chocolate bar phones.  We  streamlined the website so it could be accessed easily on PC, tablet or phone.  Now you can plan your weekend during your commute to work.

Making it easier to connect.

We wanted our website to be more than a piece of marketing, but a way to feel connected to Social Circle hosts and members.  Our blog is now packed full of interesting articles from ‘5 reasons why friends are the best’ to our most popular blog ‘Happily Single or Desperately Seeking Someone.   You can send us a cheeky tweet on Twitter and follow us on Facebook. Feel free to share events with your own friends and let them know how much fun you are having at a weekend.

Our new look.

R.I.P old logo….

The old logo was meant to portray a couple of mates sharing a laugh over a drink.  The last website was intended to invigorate the senses and inspire a sense of fun with bright, primary colours and bold headlines.  However, what worked in the early naughties does not work now. Market research suggested that we were sending out the entirely wrong message. Eek!

We brought in specialists in branding, making it clear that Social Circle is an inclusive and welcoming environment to meet new people.  We cater for a diverse range of interests and care about one another. Our brand needed to reflect the fact our members are intelligent and professional individuals.  We are very happy with the resulting logo and website which is a lot more sophisticated. More importantly, feedback suggests you love it too!

So what does the future hold?

We are continually updating the website.  Some of you have noticed that the events pages are getting a face-lift as well as more testimonials appearing across the site.  We created a fab new join us page to make it even easier to join (if you haven’t already 😉 )

We know you want to connect with your friends within social circle so we are updating the site to make this easier.  So you can expect to see new ways of interacting with other members, including uploading your pictures and discussing the events you are attending. 

We will be adding even more value to your membership by extending our activities to include more UK and European holidays and well as even more activities and events across Manchester and Cheshire. 

But all these changes are down to our lovely Social Circle members. So tell us, friends, what would you like to see in the next 12 months?

Want to meet new people in Manchester? I did and my life changed for the better.

 

Social Circle celebrated 10 years of introducing friends in 2017.

Over 10 years ago, I found myself alone in Manchester after my life and marriage fell apart. I took the first job I could.  I was a divorced 30-something father-of-two in a strange city with no friends locally. I missed company on a weekend. I realised that had to change and I needed to get out there and meet new people. 

My days of picking up strangers in a club were long behind me. I wanted something meaningful.  Something real that happened naturally. Even today, the large majority of people find their significant others through friends. I decided my social life needed a boost.

I told myself that whatever was meant for me, whether it be love or friendship, would not pass me by.

I set up dating profiles on every website going.   I even downloaded those apps and got swiping. But what could I bring to the table?  All work and no play made for awkward and dull conversations and my profile was like every other out there.  I got tired quickly of it all. I am a romantic at heart and believe that a good relationship starts naturally, without pressure, between friends sharing mutual interests.  

So I joined existing social groups. But  they were lacking in so many ways.  I could not find a group that suited my needs as a thirty-something.  It was either boozy nights out for students, gentle health walks for silver-haired retirees or clubs for semi-pro runners.  Come Friday, after a busy week at work, I just wanted fun on my doorstep with people who had similar interests to me. I did not want to be stuck to doing one thing on one night. I wanted my social calendar to work around me.

There had to be more people like me? Right?  Surely other singles were looking to meet new people?

Fortunately my hunch was correct.  Before long I had found other funny, genuine and smart men and women who had also experienced a major life change and wanted to meet new people – but didn’t know where to start.

 A pint at the Slug and Lettuce  turned into hiking adventures, meals out at restaurants and evenings at local comedy clubs.  I found there was always a new friend willing to join me at the cinema or share a laugh at the Frog and Bucket. As my social circle grew, so did my confidence. I found I wanted to try more events as my new friends introduced me to their friends.

It turned out I was doing everyone a favour by starting Social Circle.

 We all want to try something new, but we are often time-poor or exhausted from work (or both!) to organise anything ourselves.  Word soon got around that you could just book an event and turn up. I went from Billy-no-mates to always being the centre of attention at parties. I always had offers of dates.   After all, I seemed like a fun and interesting guy who found it easy to meet new friends!

Soon I had built an action packed calendar with events taking place at top Manchester Venues every night of the week and lots of new people joining us.  People, just like me and you. Soon I had to recruit a team of  hosts to make sure each event ran smoothly and that everyone got a warm welcome.  Of course, all our hosts are also members so know exactly what it is like to be a nervous newbie.

Yet, I am proud to say that after all this time, I am still close friends with the people who took a chance on having a drink with a stranger on a Friday night.

In fact it was one of my Social Circle friends,  who suggested that I organise a weekend away for Social Circle to Barcelona.   It just so happened that a new member Louise, decided that she would book the trip.  It was love at first sight and 2012 she became my wife.

Steve and Louise on their Wedding Day. A Social Circle Success Story!

Who knew that within years after turning up to my first event, that I would have a thriving business,  great friends and have met the love of my life?

So take a chance and step out there.  You never know where it may lead.

Happily Single, or Desperately Seeking Someone?

 

Single and Searching? But what for exactly?

I have lost count of the amount of friends have told me that they ‘envy’ my freedom as a single woman.  ‘Oh to be single again’ my friend Becky laments as she feeds her rosy cheeked toddler. “ You can go where you want, when you want, have long lie-ins on a Sunday and no in-laws.”My colleague, Sarah, tells me. “After 15 years with the same man I would love to be single again, do my own thing. You are so lucky

Sure, there are times where being single is great.  I have travelled to exciting places, I have my own routine and can spend time with who I like – even if that is just me, myself and my favourite movie at times.   I genuinely am having the time of my life and I imagine the increasing population of singletons in the UK would agree.  Research also confirms I am on track for a longer, more fulfilling life as a single pringle than my married counterparts.

But let’s face it. Sometimes it just sucks to be flying solo.

I want to share all these great experiences with someone special. I want someone who loves me exactly who I am, just like Mark Darcy did with Bridget Jones (even if it did take ten years and having a child for him to commit.) Dammit give me my happily ever after – even if I am influenced by generations of societal conditioning. But hey I am not the only one, the online dating industry is booming with almost half of all singles trying to find their match online.  So much for the single life being the best life.

The advice you get when you are single and searching varies from the  well-meaning to the genuinely disturbing.  If I had a pound for every time someone told me ‘it will happen when you least expect it’ I could afford my next bucket-list trip without relying on my credit card.

Fortunately for you, I have sifted through all the bullsh*t to find bring you some great advice that will both increase your happiness regardless of relationship status, and hopefully introduce you to the love of your life.

Live Life in the Moment.

My four years as a single woman have been some of the best in my life.  However, the trouble with single life – for those who aim to be out of it – is that one never knows when it might end.   I say ‘trouble’, but it is also one of its many highlights. For, really, there is nothing like stepping on a plane and finding your single self upgraded to first class and sat next to a handsome stranger like I did in 2016. One thing is for sure, time will pass whether you are sat in your apartment block tower wishing your prince (or princess) will come, or whether you are skinny dipping with strangers in the Seychelles.  So relax and enjoy life without worrying what the future holds. If you do happen to end up coupled-up, these are the days you will look back on with nostalgia. 

Be Uniquely You

The best thing about being single is that you can take time to do some soul-searching and make decisions about your own long-term happiness.  It is those major decisions which tell us which relationships continue to serve us, and which are holding us back. For example, I am glad I took time to rediscover my love of travel and it took guts to book holidays without my friends at first. However, when I went searching for trips that suited my interests, rather than appeasing my beach-loving girlfriends, it opened up new friendships with people  who are just like me.

I also kicked a few toxic habits (and people) despite protests from my former friends who had done their best to discourage me from doing such crazy things as going to the gym regularly and eating well in my pursuit to be healthy and happy. I would like to think that living my life my way has built the foundations for a great relationship with a kindred spirit, rather than having to settle. Either way, choosing to set sail by my own star, rather than someone else’s, has lead to a new found confidence and fulfilment – which I am told are very attractive qualities.

Create a Dazzling Social Life.

Socialising can be a double-edged sword unless you do it right.  On one hand, if all you do is hang around with the same married couples you are rarely going to meet anyone new.  If all you do is swipe right on Tinder then you are just going to end up on more dates with little to talk about other than Love Island.

So how do you build a social life that will make you look fun and interesting and introduces you to potential partners?

I found by joining a social group that offered a diverse range of activities locally suited me down to the ground.    I found a great bunch of people to act as my wing-women (and men) as I flirted my way across the dance floor, and to drag me a few hungover miles around Cheshire the following day.  Soon, my weekends were full of fun and I was planning holidays all over Europe with my new found friends.  My social life has benefited more than my love life.  When I was interviewed for my dream job at a Times 100 company, my dazzling social life and varied interests was what landed me the job.  After all, I seemed fun and interesting compared to the usual legal types.

A little savvy research from local  Relationship Coach and Author, Sam Owen, in her article ‘What your social circle says about you‘   suggests that if we keep our ‘ideal self’ in mind when socialising we will soon begin to attract people and experiences that reflect our ideals. Like attracts Like after all.  For me, this involved stepping outside my usual social circle, and comfort zone, by going to places and events that appealed to my new found sense of self.

As Sam sagely says:

The people we surround ourselves with impact virtually every aspect of our life.  Is it time to think about what your circle says about you and what it’s doing to you and your chances of success, health and happiness?