From Social Media to Personal Media

Taps with some of my friends (images used with their consent)

I recently underwent a major surgery to remove a tumor on my hearing nerve, and it was a tough period. I needed long hours of bed rest each day, and had to slowly re-learn the very basics of going about my daily life. But, no matter how important being able to move and eat on my own were to me, I found that being able to communicate with the people who were present, and being able to easily reach out to close friends around the world who couldn’t be there, was just as important. It reminded me how deeply social we are as human beings, and how fundamental the need for connection really is.

Yet, despite this need for real connection, we spend hours each day settling for cheap substitutes, zoning out in front of social media. While it makes us feel like we’re connected to the people in our lives, a widely-published update from a casual acquaintance or celebrity is not the same thing as one-on-one, personal communication with the important people in our lives — a form of communication that seems to have fallen by the wayside in the past few years. Think about it: when was the last time you picked up a phone and called a friend for no reason at all, just to say ‘Hey, I’m thinking about you.’ These days, it seems more and more rare.

Perhaps it’s because of the effort it takes: you have to sync schedules, think about what to say, keep the conversation going for a certain amount of time, and think about how to end the conversation. Texting is simpler, but it has its own limitations: you still need to think about what to say, type it into the keyboard, and engage in the demands of a real-time back-and-forth conversation. While not as demanding as a phone call, the simple truth is, words on a screen can only convey so much. These thoughts became very real for me during the weeks of my recovery. I wondered, how can we connect effortlessly and authentically, in a way that’s personal, direct, and maybe even a little bit magical?

This is the kind of thinking that has gone into Tapstack, the app that my team and I have been working on for the last few years. Located in the space between messaging and social media, we provide our community of users around the world with a way to stay in meaningful contact with those they care about — without needing to formally coordinate and sync up, or invest a whole lot of time or effort. We do this via Taps — photos and videos of up to 10 seconds — that are shot and sent in one quick gesture: tapping the profile picture of the person on your grid of contacts that you want to send the Tap to.

Exchanging a Tap is far more lightweight than picking up the phone or typing out a text, and because of the ease of sending them, Taps become our users’ favorite way to reach out. They also put people in touch a lot more regularly, and their relationships deepen, as a result. If one quick Tap is all you need to do to share a moment with someone on your mind, you find that an entirely new and personal channel opens up to share real moments from both of your lives. Even when recovering, a quick Tap was sometimes all I needed to let friends and family know I was ok. And on the other end, I can’t really put into words how great it was to wake up everyday to new messages and updates from them, in return.

Tapping with my family in a Tapstack group (images used with their consent)

Personally, I use Tapstack every day with my family and closest friends, and at this point, I can’t imagine my relationships without it. Together, we share all kinds of moments — large and small, exciting and mundane. Living as far as I do from the people closest to me, I love having a window into their daily experiences in Germany and the Netherlands and to provide them with a window into mine, here in San Francisco. In fact, I see my brother, mother and father almost every day, and then, when I see them at important moments in real life, like I did in the hospital a few months ago, it feels like I haven’t been away at all. For me, that matters, and that’s something that a Facebook, Instagram or other social media post can never really deliver — because a moment shared with 500 friends or 1,000 followers is not the same as a moment created and shared specifically with someone close in mind.

I’d love for you to see what I mean, and invite you to try Tapstack. Today, we’re releasing of our first major version since we launched, and if you haven’t checked us out before, now is a great time to. If you have in the past, I invite you to take a look at what’s new — there’s a bunch of upgrades and new features for you to enjoy, like the ability to save standout moments to a shared album of saved Taps between you and the sender, for example. You can take a peek at some FAQs for new and existing users, below.

Download Tapstack on the App Store or Play Store, invite a few of your close friends on board, and start tapping. After a week or two, you’ll see what sending daily Taps does to your relationships — and I think you’ll like it!

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. I know some of you might have some questions about the recent changes so we’ve put together some answers and comments here:

If you have any questions, thoughts or comments you’d like to share, I’d be delighted to hear from you: