The Contradiction of Connection
Holy shit we’re connected! And I mean that in every conceivable sense of the expression. Global trade markets are connected, financial markets are connected, our devices are connected, information is connected, and most importantly (certainly within the context of this post), people are increasingly connected. And while I’m not taking a firm stance on the social implications of this growing connectedness, I do find it to be an undeniable reality. Presumptions aside (of which I have many), I want only to make an objective observation. An observation steeped in experience from which I’ve developed a significant sense of entitlement. Had I not been aggressively attentive on a wide range of social platforms over the past decade, I might not feel that this observation deserves any exposure at all. However, I have put in the time, and therefor, I do feel compelled and legitimized in dissecting what would otherwise be considered a tangential conjecture at best.
Just to contextualize “put in the time,” I would claim near mastery over no less than 8 social apps/platforms at any given time over the past decade (currently: Anchor, Ello, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Slack, Snapchat, and Twitter) while becoming concurrently proficient with no less than 6 more (currently: Blab, Firef.ly, Music.ly, Peach, Periscope, and Yik Yak). Oh, and I’m happy to prove it at any point; all you have to do is ask. And yes, I’m fully aware that many are likely to label this behavior with an adjective somewhere between reprehensible and repulsive, but that honestly just tells me that you don’t care to understand, and I totally respect that.
I provide this preface not to claim some sort of techno-social superiority, but to provide credence to what I find to be a rather riveting realization at a clearly captivating point in time. I’m noticing, more poignantly of late, that the more we get connected by machines, the more we tend to value the complex connections we possess as humans (perhaps even to the point of falsely overvaluing, but that’s for another discussion). Not only that, but the more expansive the connections, the greater the compulsive recoil we feel to be brought back towards our tribal roots. This is why I see huge potential in apps like Anchor.fm. Intentional or not, Anchor has found itself strategically perched on the fulcrum between digital connectivity and anthropomorphism; where human voice steers the ship towards deeper connection.
In time, I think social media will be driven almost entirely by how we define ourselves and who we identify with on a very human level. As the nuance and means by which we self-identify reach new varietal capacities, I envision digital communities adapting to offer equally niche spaces which intentionally tempt our most tribalistic tendencies. I think the ability to offer that, within a package of exclusivity and overtly discernible bounds, will illuminate a trail of VC funding leading directly to the doorstep of tomorrow’s social empire. The Silicon Valley victors will no longer be those that grow the largest community, but those that develop the communities which allow us to feel most human.