You Have 7,196,807,790 Friend Requests

I used to pride myself on knowing every person that I was friends with on Facebook. In reality though, I don’t know if that was ever true, and now, with 1,993 friends, I can say with certainty that this will never be true. Social media is great for many things: image editing, instant news updates, restaurant recommendation, and the list goes on.  My generation both literally and figuratively has the world at our fingertips — If we want to find something, more often then not we will, and if we cannot, someone is probably already building an app or source for it out in Silicon Valley. Because everything has become so easily accessible, a world without connection seems unfathomable to me. You can take away my phone, but I can still text my friends through iMessage on my laptop. You can take away my laptop, and I am still able to access my Google drive through my phone. Our world’s knowledge acquisition and response time is becoming instant, more accurate, and scarily easy to find.

But we all know this. So what is this blog post about then? Connection. Real-life, tangible, connection with each other.

This is the one thing that social media has failed to do, but not due to a lack of effort.

A few weeks back, we read about Friendster, one of the first social media sites ever to be functional on the web.  Friendster used information sharing, such as pictures and profile information, but their aim was to create an online dating atmosphere. They’re plan back-fired when people started creating fake profiles and making profiles for their friends, and their user –base eventually plummeted.

Friendster

Reading through reviews of the Friendster demise, a common agreement among commenters is that Friendster was a really good idea. They used information sharing before MySpace or Facebook, and their goal was to do something that social media still has not been able to accomplish – make social media users more social.

A more current example of this attempt at creating a community among social media users in “One.” In its founding years, it was given over $1 million dollars of funding, and it’s CEO, Cory Levy was labeled as “the next Zuckerberg.” What One attempts to do is create interest-based profiles for users, and connect users with similar interests together, in real time.  If you are standing in the same Starbucks with another one user, and you both like to travel, the app will alert you. One’s goal is to be a conversation starter. They want you to turn to that person and say, “Hey, I like to travel too.”

one_logo

The issue that One is having, currently, is building both awareness and a user base. This app is useless unless there are many people in your immediate area that also have it downloaded. Also, a simple of search for One in Google turns up nothing. Their website is whatisone.com, and unless you know this, it’s almost impossible to find more information on the app. Also, the media attention for the app stopped two years ago, when it got it’s funding, so I don’t predict much traction being made by One in the future.

Although both of these social media platforms seem pretty different, I believe that they both failed/failing to do the same productive thing: actually connect people.

Ever since engaging in social media, ironically, I have become socially lazy. I am constantly up-to-date with my ‘friend’s’ lives, but I have not actually talked to some of them in-person for years. Sometimes I’ll forget how long it has actually been until I finally see them in-person again.

Although I may be socially lazy when it comes to my online connections, I think that an important thing to point out here is the effect that Friendster had on social networking. Friendster added names, faces, and information into online networking, and although they failed to capitalize it, they paved the way for the social media giant, Facebook. Friendster’s failures created the opportunity for the world to connect with each other.

I may not think that One will be completely successful in it’s endeavors to make social users more social, but it may take their experience trying to do so to help an even better idea be formed.

I predict that the future of social media lies with concrete relationships that are formed outside of, but caused by, the little computers that we can never seem to put down. Maybe, one day, we will actually be able to be friends with the entire world.

 

8 comments

  1. Rach, I love how you focus on real connections and social media’s attempt to forge them! I had never heard of One before and I’m not sure I would like it. I think it’s admirable that the app wants people to make real-life connections based on common interests, but you point out a few important flaws. Also, if I was in Starbucks and I was alerted that someone might have similar interests, I think I would be too freaked out to strike up a conversation! I feel like it’s trying to force connections on people in a way. However, I always say that I’d rather meet a guy “the normal way” rather than online (which I refuse to do), so maybe that’s hypocritical of me! In addition, you make a good point about how so many of us have become “socially lazy.” I sometimes go weeks without talking to my friends from home and I don’t even notice it – when I’ve liked their photos on Instagram and we’ve exchanged a few Snapchats, I feel like that counts as interaction even though it pales in comparison to a real conversation. I wonder if more apps will try to forge these personal connections in the future or if we’ll continue to stay hidden behind a Facebook profile. I think it’s important, as you pointed out, that we still value in-person interactions! Great post!!

  2. I love this! After high school I went through a “Facebook purge” and came to BC with under 200 friends. It was really refreshing to know that I was actually real-life friends with most of those people, but, like you, I’ve become lazy. I’m back to a ridiculous amount of friends, most of who I don’t speak to regularly, if at all.

    Like Meagan said, One sounds cool but I think I would be too chicken to act on any of the apps recommendations! There’s too much potential for rejection and awkwardness, which sounds silly even typing out. But I like the idea of in-person interactions being the end goals of social media. Great post!

  3. Much like Emily, I too went through a Facebook purge, and there were few survivors. I came to realize that the majority of people I had friended from high school (to put it in perspective my graduating class had about 800 people) annoyed me to no end or I didn’t really care about, I just added them because we had a class together etc. I made it a rule that if I had hung out or meaningly communicated with that person for over a year, they were deleted, and it was incredible to see how many menial connections I had made with people to the point where I barely knew them outside of their profile on Facebook.

    Much like we discussed in class, I think the One app is interested, and maybe even useful if you have a very specific interest (let’s say are a big part of the Dr. Who fandom or something) and want to meet other people with that very tailored interest. However if the interests are just like “coffee, reading, eating Mexican food” then I don’t think that is enough to generate anything meaningful. Plus I would be way too shy!

    Great post ☺

  4. Hi Rachel – I actually have never gone through a Facebook purge, but I’ve intended to. There were times my freshman year of college that I would meet someone at a party, they Facebooked me, and I’m still friends with them although I haven’t seen them since. I do extensively work on my Newsfeed though to eliminate those that I don’t care to see.

    One time, I had this girl who I was acquainted with defriend me, and then try to refriend me a year later. Totally against all social media etiquette right? Needless to say I did not accept her refriend request.

    If our classmates are already hesitant to use One, I worry about it’s ability to be successful. As you mentioned, all social networks need many users before they can be truly worthwhile. I look forward to seeing where it will go though!

    On a final note, your title was very intriguing, but where did the number come from? Or did you just make it up?

    1. Hey Kathryn, Great question about the number! It was the exact population count at the time that I wrote this post!

  5. It will be interesting to see if One succeeds, because it seems something that would be very easy for Facebook to copy if they did. I do think tighter integration between the offline and online worlds, however, will be a future development of social media. Nice post!

  6. Like many of the people who commented before me, I tend to lose track of some of my friends for long periods of time as well. I can never decide if that is the college effect, the laziness factor, or just growing apart. Am I lazy or were we only friends through convenience? Sometimes I just don’t know.

    In class One has been mentioned multiple times. The overwhelming response is that most “normal” people wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to approach people who simply shared an interest. I also feel like different people would have different uses for it and it would create a very segmented user base. For example some people would be looking to date or “hook up”. Others might be really lonely and just want someone to talk to. But in the current state of social media (and society), meeting people online is generally thought of as a stigma. Only people who can’t have real life relationships would do that. However, I think it will become more popular to meet people online even if it’s only for friendship. Look at the strides online dating has made. I’m not sure if One is the answer but I feel like eventually someone will create a platform that encourages and actually achieves relationships outside of the internet/social media.

  7. Great post, Rachel. I really like your point about being socially lazy, and it makes me wonder- does social media do small talk for us? I know I have some connections I don’t spend much time with, and our conversations are rarely much more than a few sentences of catching up. In some ways social media helps with this, but it also eliminates the need for small-talk with acquaintances. I too wonder whether social media is making us socially lazy…

    Nice job!

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