Poke Me! Looking At Your Social Spleens

When did you last Poke someone?

Your wife? Your boyfriend? Your colleague? Your mum?

Poking is still on Facebook. It’s still a feature. But, like your spleen, it’s a relic from a past age, that no one knows what it’s for, or how to use it.

We know ‘digital is constantly changing the world.’

We forget ‘digital is constantly changing.’

Facebook in an age of 13 mega-pixel phone cameras is different. We produce more photos than ever before; we can take photos at the exact time we’re having that moment. Facebook grew due to its wonderful ability to look at our friends’ photos at once (rather than having to show them on your screen or over email. ) But it didn’t evolve to keep up with how we want to store, curate, tag and edit our photos. It’s overwhelming and boring to corral 200 photos in one album, or spend hours post-editing our experience. We want to boast about it right now. That’s why the in-the-moment, ‘one perfect photo’ appeal of Instagram worked so well. Missing the change: that’s why Facebook had to buy Instagram.

Facebook in an age of your mum joining is different. That’s why teens are getting so good at tweaking their own privacy controls, or missing off their surnames to avoid future detection during job hunting. That’s why they’re moving to networks like Snapchat where their image is peer-to-peer and disappears instantly. That’s why Facebook is trying desperately to keep the teens.

And Twitter when I started was full of ReTweets. The funniest jokes, the best news, was filtered quickly into my feed. But my feed is full — too full — now, because I’ve followed so many people. So I, and most other people, just Favourite now. There was a visible shift in Twitter about a year ago: Tweets now got more Favourites than RTs. Which makes it harder to run across new people, discover the trends, and grow your own presence.

Then again, even with the same set of features, Twitter behaviours change community to community. If you look at how a teen uses Twitter, it’s full of Favs & RTs. They post 20x a day. They RT their friends into their feed, and talk constantly to a select group. They use it as a constant status update, from waking up, to sleeping, a continual feed of emotions and thoughts about parents, school work, ‘life’,. They side talk about friends or dramas in a public but veiled way — the ‘Sub Tweet’. Here’s a Youtuber’s teen Tweets —

It’s very different to my feed: full of links to BusinessInsider and The Economists, Retweets of journalists, jokey statistical graphs and lots and lots of links out to articles, with only the occasional personal comment. Twitter for me is a media, educational & breaking news tool — not an emotional one. Even given the same set of tools and features, people will find their own ways to use any platform.

So what can we do with leftover features — these social spleens? Like any troublesome defunct organ, we should keep an eye on them, because a diaganosis may tell us about what’s working and what’s broken elsewhere in the body. About what feature we should be innovating next, or what shift in consumer behaviour is happening, or what problems we’re going to face in the future.

As for Poking, maybe Zuck should have spun off a Facebook Dating app first ;)

Like what you read? Give Philippa Dunjay a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.