Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Circle socials

Friday, November 27th, 2020 | Friends

When the first lockdown happened, I was a little slow to get started. In between starting a new business and having Venla home 24 hours a day, I didn’t do a great deal of socialising while everyone else seemed to be jumping on Zoom. When lockdown 2 rolled around, I had enough time to be a bit more proactive and we started organising some Zoom sessions.

These have proved really nice. It’s been great to a) see other people but also b) connect with people I wouldn’t talk to as much as I liked because they are far away (in many different parts of Not Leeds, from Sheffield to Mexico). Whether they wil continue after the apocalypse ends I’m sure, but I would like to think so for this reason.

Jimbob in Leeds

Thursday, September 26th, 2019 | Friends

It’s not often that we have an eminent doctor of chemistry visiting Leeds. But earlier this month we were graced with James and Meg dropping by for a wedding.

This is one of the few occasions where we would deliberately want to eat British. So, we hit George’s. They put candy floss on everything, and the food was generally acceptable but mediocre.

We also hit Blackhouse for Sunday lunch. My beef roast was so bad I had to send it back. But they did replace it with a much better one and took it off the bill. I’ll happily go back but stick to a classic steak next time.

We forgot to take a picture, so here is a stock image…

The Village Effect

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 | Books

How important is face-to-face contact? In her book The Village Effect, Susan Pinker argues it is super important. In almost every key aspect of our lives, strong social ties play a large role.

Longevity for one. Pinker shows that strong social ties have one of the strongest effects on life expectancy, bigger than almost any other factor. She discusses the villages of Sardinia where a strong sense of family and relationships help record numbers of people reach the age of 100. Interestingly, these stronger social ties not only help people live longer but also reduce the gender gap.

The differences in social ties can also explain other differences between gender. Men tend to have a wider less-intimate social network while women have fewer but closer friends. On average this benefits men more in things like the workplace as high-paid jobs are often gained through a weak connection. However, in terms of longevity it gives women the advantage because they have more people to confide men. Men on the other hand often only have one person, their spouse, and therefore nobody should their spouse die.

Having plenty of social relationships is important then, but it also turns out that they need to be face-to-face. Otherwise, no oxytocin release for you. Unfortunately spending time socialising online actually reduces face-to-face contact. The number of personal emails somebody sends directly correlates with depression.

Strengthening your intimate social connections has a large benefit. For example, getting married. I assumed that cohabiting was just as good as getting married. It’s not. People who choose to get married (marrying for family pressure does not count) live longer than unmarried people. Being in a marriage reduces your chance of cancer, depression, hospitalisation, premature death and prison.

In the workplace, increased social connections can bring benefits too. Call centres used to schedule people’s breaks at different times. What happened when they aligned people’s breaks so they had 15 minutes to chat to each other? Productivity and team work went up by a significant amount. In contrast, remote working has a negative effect on integration and cohesiveness.

Pinker suggests that being loneliness is a lot like being hungry. It causes you to feel actual pain. This is because we evolved in a world where we needed to stick together. Being excluded from the clan was a death sentence. So, just as being hunger-pain is a sign you need to get some food, loneliness-pain is a sign you are in danger of losing the group. We fear exclusion and people talking behind our back because we are tuned by evolution to fear exclusion.

What message should we take away? That social connections are really important If you want to live a long and happy life (and surely all of us want at least one of those) then having strong social connections is key. Spend time with people, and make sure that time is spent face-to-face.


P.S. If you are wondering if Susan is any relation to Steven Pinker, the answer is yes, they’re siblings. Anything that comes out of the Pinker family seems to be an amazing read.

Friends wall

Thursday, January 29th, 2009 | Friends

Having spent the last few weeks annoying people for pictures of me and them, and annoying people even more by pushing other people out of such photos so I could get a shot of just myself and the other person, I have finally finished my friends wall.

If you’re not on the wall, well, tough luck, turns out I don’t like you.

Well, that’s not strictly true, I don’t think I turned down anyone to be on the wall, I just didn’t have good photos of most of my friends hence why I have spent the last few weeks annoying people for photos.

Hopefully I’ll be able to sort out photos with everyone else in the future and put them on some kind of random rotation.

Friends wall

Graduation part II

Monday, July 14th, 2008 | Thoughts

Despite things having been slowly coming to an end for months now, it really started to bite home that we have graduated and university is over.

That’s huge. It’s been like my entire life for the past 3 years. I can barely remember life before university now and suddently it’s all been taken away. The last 3 years have been the best years of my life and I’m sure other people feel similar, Kieran said the same to me yesterday and could possibly be the best 3 years of my life that I’m ever going to have.

I mean, how many people are we going to lose contact with now? It’s a lot. Let’s not kid ourselves. Most people we’re never going to see again. How many of the people I currently consider close friends and I going to know in 10-20 years? How do you really know when you have made a friendship strong enough to stand the test of time?

Furthermore I no longer have university to hide behind. There is no, “well I’m finishing my degree before I make something off my life.” The wall has come down, now I’m just undefensibly failing to do anything with my life, to chase my dreams and achieve my goals.

I don’t think it helps that with it being summer, lots of people who would otherwise be around have gone back home or on holiday but Leeds feels so empty. I’ve gone from living with 6 other people, near the city and campus where all my friends live to living with 2 other people with everyone living miles away from each other.

Still, not everything has changed. I’m still broke. My pre-tax income has tripled but I’m still broke. I’m still working every day (though I did rather enjoy my weekend off this weekend). I’m still not used to mornings. It’s good to know there are some things you can rely on to be constant in your life.

Anyone else having a similar experience? Open up, share…