November 26, 2021

Why You Have Virtually No Friends.


All the Small Things

Humans are, without question, vastly complex. Whether you're meeting someone for the first time or fifteenth—there are lots of small things that can help you 'get to know' one another. Some are fashionably contentious: milk first, or cereal? Chocolate in the fridge, or cupboard? Podcast on the train, or a good old fashioned book? And so on, and so forth, until everything about everyone has been thoroughly picked apart and pathologised.

Others are unfortunately less fashionable. Carefully constructing arguments about chocolate or cereal seems much more appealing than reserving that same vigour for, well, anything potentially significant. Yeah that's right, how's that for some pathologising? Pick that apart.

One idiosyncrasy often flying under the radar is your 'social media of choice'. Are you a Facebook homing pigeon? Maybe you're a WhatsApp messenger? Do you DM funny tweets to all your friends (so even those not on twitter can BE on twitter)? Or are you the 'text only' type? Whatever your answer, I bet that hit a nerve.

We're All in the Same Boat, Actually

Unlike the chocolate in the fridge individual (or in the cupboard!)—our preferences, when it comes to how we socialise online, are not worth defending to death. We're all in the same boat. No platform is holistic enough to give us everything we want, so we're left to pick and choose—stretched across various channels in a bid to accommodate deficiency. This cross-platform pinging doesn't say nearly as much about our personal preferences as it does about the boxes we're put in when interacting in digital spaces.

And the proof really is in the pudding here. As much as these platforms have tried to emulate (and even flat out copy) each other, there's still is no 'one king' that rules them all. Let's take the humble 'story', for example. Even LinkedIn has one now, but everyone knows that Instagram stories are still the best. Snapchat however, despite being the original version of the impermanent 'story', is only used by weirdos and - gasp - tweens.

Breaking the Mould

It seems that folks are bored of the norm. Social media has seen a shift in recent years toward the world of nerd. The rise in Twitch and Discord has proven the need for progress in alternative interaction and creative exhibition. And yet, despite all this variety—we are herded into factions of communication.

Text-based mediums fall flat, yet we rely on them to connect with faraway friends and family regardless. This is probably why, when we couldn't meet up in-person, we didn't just use our existing channels more. Huge swathes of us sought a proper alternative elsewhere, yet we're still searching.

Less Acrobatics, More Fun

There is still progress to be had, and momentum to build on. Online is here to stay, and though there's nothing quite like grabbing a coffee IRL, we need better tools to interact when that's not possible. It's time for one-dimensional platforms to step aside and make way for something that's better and broader. Let's to do away with the app gymnastics we are so often forced into.

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