cnnectd series — Part 2: The Hypothesis

Alex Benner
Jan 19, 2018 · Unlisted

In the previous article, ‘The Problem’, I talked about how hard it is — at least for me — to stay in touch with friends & family in a meaningful way, especially with time-zone differences, but this can even hold true within the same city/country.

The problem:

Maintaining meaningful contact with friends and family through digital media is time-intensive, and the current solutions are inadequate for this purpose.

Which leads me to…

The hypothesis:

If there was an easy and convenient way to meaningfully stay in touch with people, we would make the time to use it.

Let’s address what could invalidate this hypothesis.

  • If the answer is an app — I have too many apps already

I have too many apps already

This is a fair objection.

Perhaps you want to spend more time in the real world.
Maybe you want to ‘disconnect’ as a way of ‘re-connecting’. I admire you, and I want to follow this path more closely too.

However — at least for me, as someone who has moved abroad — there are people outside of my physical sphere worth staying connected with, and without technology, it’s hard.

I don’t have time

I certainly worry that this ‘problem’ I have, is a problem of priorities, and not a problem of ‘insufficient time’.

But then again, according to socialmediatoday:

the average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.

If we remove Youtube, which I’d argue isn’t ‘social’ media for the purposes of this discussion:

Facebook: 35 minutes

Snapchat: 25 minutes

Instagram: 15 minutes

A whopping: 1 hour, 15 minutes a day on social media.

We should feel more connected than ever.

Are we? Keep reading…

Social media is doing a great job already

See this article from Forbes Magazine:

The General Social Survey found that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. “Zero” is the most common number of confidants, reported by almost a quarter of those surveyed. Likewise, the average number of people Americans feel they can talk to about ‘important matters’ has fallen from three to two.

Ironically, we use the Internet to alleviate our loneliness. Social connection no longer requires a car, phone call or plan — just a click

One reason the Internet makes us lonely is we attempt to substitute real relationships with online relationships. Though we temporarily feel better when we engage others virtually, these connections tend to be superficial and ultimately dissatisfying. Online social contacts are “not an effective alternative for offline social interactions,” sums one study.


(The full article is well worth the read)

Additionally, here is the former VP of User growth at Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya on the potential effects of social media on society itself:

We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded by these short term signals — hearts, likes, thumbs up, and we conflate that with value and we conflate that with truth.

Instead what it really is, is fake, brittle popularity, that’s short-term and leads you to feel even more vacant and empty than before you did it. Then it forces you into this vicious cycle where you’re like ‘what’s the next thing I need to do now, ’cause I need it back’

Sobering words.

The Guardian has a write up on his & Sean Parker’s (former President of Facebook & Napster founder) comments on Facebook for further reading.

I already feel like I’m meaningfully in touch with the right people or I don’t want to meaningfully stay in touch with people.

Re: the latter — each to their own.

For the former:

Perhaps all of your closest friends and family live in the same city as you do, or current social media scratches your itch for you.

Either way I’m happy for you!

It’s too time/effort intensive to properly stay in touch with people

Fair point.

When it comes to friends — I’ve always been a ‘fewer but closer’ person.

Still, I suspect that most of the 1hr 15m per day spent on current social media is for the most part not helping build connectedness with people.

I find Skype/Phonecalls/Insert solution here is already sufficiently easy & convenient

Great! You rock.

Chances are you probably have your priorities well in order :)

The solution doesn’t actually end up fostering greater connection. It doesn’t provide enough benefit to the User to overcome the hurdles of adoption

The biggest risk of all, is that it can’t carve out a space in your routine, because it’s not good enough.

The benefit is not great enough to justify the cost of:

  1. Learning a new process

Which leads me to…

‘The opportunity’


Product & Design lessons with the FAF project

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