Meet, Talk… (Part 1):

“What we want are real (not virtual) social networks!”

Meet, Talk… : Our vision has always been to make Men Beyond 50 a true network, and we feel the time is now right to take the next steps to make this a reality. The main message from the MB50 Questionnaire which we circulated in January and February couldn’t have be clearer – you want more opportunities and different ways for us to meet and talk. So we are putting that into action!

London MB50 Group: this began last month co-hosted MenSpeak .  If you are interested in starting a MB50 local group, and would like help and support, contact

– MB50 Events for Spring/Summer 2013: for listing go to EVENTS PAGE

– MB50 ‘Steering Group’: we are holding a series of evening open meetings over the next few months to explore in greater depth the gifts and issues for older men, and one of our hopes is that this will lead to the creation of a ‘Steering Group’. Contact to find out more, and if you would like to attend and take part.

MB50 Questionnaire Results (January/February 2013)

Meet, Talk… Support… and Help: We are really very grateful to the 12 responders to the MB50 Questionnaire! You gave us some very clear messages:

1. Build real (not virtual) social networks

2. Support ways we can contribute to our communities

3. Help us realise our full potentials as older men

Click here to read the full results of the questionnaire


Research Backs Meeting Face to Face!

Meet, Talk… Be happy: “People are happier and laugh 50% more when talking face-to-face”. So wrote the Daily Mail (11 April 2013)

I began by feeling suitably “sniffy” about the D Mail article, but the main points from the research were interesting – especially in the light of the results of the recent MB50 Questionnaire.

(1. Talking on phone does not make people feel as good as sharing a smile

2. Quality not quantity of communication is more important

3. Most satisfying relationships “come from a handful of close friends”

I am a scribbler (writes Max), and I love writing for the MB50 website, and I have also enjoyed creating a MB50 social media presence, but of course I value and need real face-to-face meetings more. There is now some research showing that the connections we make through a website blog or Facebook are “weak ties” compared to real meetings (or even Skype when we can at least see each other), and that websites don’t appear to help people make true friendships .

The research has been done by Dr Sam Roberts, senior lecturer at the University of Chester and you can follow him talking about it here Based on two questionnaires, his research found there was no link between Facebook use and people with larger groups of friends and more emotionally rich relationships. The research also suggested that even talking on the phone and texting does not make people feel as good as sharing a smile. People find the most satisfying relationships come from a handful of close friends, with an outer ‘ring’ of 10 significant others, and by contrast building up a large number of Facebook ‘friends’ produces a poor level of intimacy. In another related study ((Available in free full text ) Dr Roberts compared Skyping with interacting via phone, instant messaging, text messages or social network sites. People interacting face-to-face or on Skype were 50 per cent more likely to laugh, and they rated themselves as significantly happier.

Of course there is plenty of other research suggesting other things – (thanks to my good friend Dr James Hawkins for this bit) – but some scientific evidence supporting too. If you are interested, try:

Helliwell, J. F. and H. Huang (2013). “Comparing the happiness effects of real and on-line friends.” National Bureau of Economic Research NBER Working Papers 18690.  This is a very recent large (5,000 people) Canadian survey of 5,000 people that compared real-time and on-line social networks as sources of subjective well-being. There are three key results. First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being (SWB) even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences. Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner. Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.

van der Horst, M. and H. Coffé (2012). “How friendship network characteristics influence subjective well-being.” Social Indicators Research 107(3): 509-529.  (Available in free full text) This article explored how friendship network characteristics influence subjective well-being (SWB). Using data from the 2003 General Social Survey of Canada, three components of the friendship network were differentiated: number of friends, frequency of contact, and heterogeneity of friends… etc, etc!