Fancy a takeaway? Need a lift? Want to sell your unwanted clothes without leaving the house? There’s an app for that.
Whether it’s improving our efficiency at work, helping us unwind at the end of the day or finding a new relationship, technology and an inter-connected society has provided answers, or at the very least, wider options.
Amidst the speed and ease of a high-tech culture, one thing that has been overlooked is friendship. According to the BBC’s Loneliness Experiment, young people – aged 16-24 – are the loneliest group in society.
Tinder for friends
This dilemma led to the creation of Girl Gang Manchester, a group of creative and artistic women, offering opportunities to meet people in real life, sharing experiences and making friends.
Megan Marie Griffith, founder and executive producer, said:
”Girl Gang began as a response to people not knowing how to make friends as an adult. You’d get people saying, ‘why isn’t there a tinder for friends!”
She says there’s too much weight given to finding romantic or work connections, with the assumption that when you reach adulthood you won’t be looking for friends.
She said: ”There’s no information or emphasis put on the importance of platonic relationships.”
Griffith, who is trained as a theatre producer, says that the skills we need to interact with others are being lost in an online world.
”We all have so many social media friends and we feel connected if we comment, follow and like. The reality is that we are becoming increasingly isolated.
Speaking to strangers is a skill we are rapidly losing.”
Girl Gang Manchester organise events that try to address this issue, encouraging adults to have fun, be creative and connect with people in person. Earlier this month they hosted a ‘Speed Mate-ing’ evening, using the classic dating event model to offer a playful alternative for adults to meet new friends.
”I’m really proud of the atmosphere at our events,” said Griffith. ”There’s enough structure to make it easier if you’re nervous, but enough freedom to have fun.”
Leave your phone at the door
Events like ‘Speed Mate-ing’ use a mixture of games and challenges to encourage interaction and help adults to relax.
Griffith highlighted the importance of leaving your phone at the door to discourage avoidance of eye-contact and conversation through nervous scrolling:
”It’s about challenging yourself – you don’t have to give up social media completely and throw your technology away, but why not try leaving it at the door for two hours?”
She says they encourage this non-digital form of interaction throughout the events, handing out paper contact sheets for collecting details of new friends.
Girl Gang now has groups in Sheffield, Leeds and Edinburgh, hoping to expand and encourage a bigger community of friends.
Though aimed at women, Griffith wants to ensure they are an open and welcoming collective:
”We recognise the importance of female-fronted groups and female-majority environments, but we are open to all genders.
”It’s all about making connections and having a place we can be our most authentic selves.”
The next Speed Mate-ing event is 25th July from 6.30pm. For more information visit their website.