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.
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.”
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.