Needed: Social networks 3.0?

Bilal Zuberi
Jan 1, 2018 · 3 min read

Over the last few days friends across the globe have been sharing their memories of 2017 — what they liked, what they hated — and their resolutions for the new year.

Besides a global frustration at being stuck with a system that enabled Donald Trump to become President, what is clearly being shared is also a strong dislike for social media/networking platforms we have come to rely on for news and entertainment. A lot of new year’s resolutions seem to be about taking a break from social media.

2018 looks like the year people will start in earnest a search for social media for the modern times. The first wave of social media/networking (1.0) was ICQ/chat forums/Skype etc that in hindsight seem relatively benign even if very limited in features. The second wave (2.0) brought us the tsunami of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc which were awesome for a while, but backlash against them is significant and growing loud.

People used to say Facebook feed was filled with friends we have, while Twitter feed was people we wish were our friends. Well, 2017 tested that hypothesis and major social media platforms failed us badly. Their evolution took away from the online collegial experience humans cherished. Algorithmic feeds took away posts from close family and friends, and replaced them with crazy rants from friends we may have met once on a college campus, and who turned out to be racists, anti-vaxxers, or extremist lunatics. What was once a source of friendship, comfort, and mutual trust/affection, turned into a torrential downpour of hatred, stress, and anxiety. Many of the calmer, happier folks who just wanted to share their baby or puppy photos backed off Facebook, and many with informed opinions and knowledge left Twitter. And we were left with silly memes, non-sensical arguments, and Russian bots.

Many of my friends, and family, are searching for a new place on the web to call their ‘village’. This group is experimenting — with multitude of private WhatsApp groups, sharing articles on LinkedIn, and some even trying GroupMe and Slack type platforms with friends. But these are imperfect solutions — not quite right for what people want, but at least provide some relief from constant chaos and source of anxiety. Personally for me, LinkedIn has hundreds of people on my feed that I don’t even remember who they are any more, and WhatsApp is a bottomless pit of silly and funny video clips from relatives.

Something new is needed for friends, families, and professional contacts to converse and share with each other, for me to create a ‘village’ I would like to be a part, to be able to discover incredible people and content, and to be able to share and learn within a safe environment— and I am hopefully somebody somewhere is working on it right now. I know I have heard multiple times in 2017 that consumer investing ‘feels dead’ but boy, it does feel like the opportunity is huge if someone can figure this out. Maybe an opportunity for app developers on BlockStack to rebuild a completely decentralized Social Media 3.0? Until then the struggle on social networks is real.

BZ Notes

I am an early stage VC, partner at Lux Capital.

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