right-sizing social media

on the heels of me processing some thoughts (mostly from anil dash) about social media and news, i’ve had three conversations in the past three days about right-sizing/re-localizing social media.

at the moment it feels pretty clear me that social media as it currently exists isn’t social like it used to be. social media platforms are mostly for shouting (happily, angrily, blindly, strategically, whatever) these days.

i think a significant part of that is because the platforms are just too big. thinking about dunbar’s number, there is theory that discusses the limits of human relationships (spoiler: the magic number is 150). we can actually only hold a certain number of relationships in our memory before we begin to forget things. and, sure, tools can help us augment that number… but not indefinitely.

and the more i think about it, the more i think there are actual benefits to limited relationship pools. it actually doesn’t seem functional or desirable to me to be connected to everyone in our pasts. some thoughts i want to share now literally are irrelevant to people from previous stages of my life. in fact, some of those thoughts are actually damaging to those old relationships.

anyway, social media platforms and our social circles therein are too big, imo. and the backlash/reaction to this reality is already beginning. things like timewellspent, the sabbath manifesto, and the cell phone bed are all indications of us having swung hard in one direction with this ubiquitous tech phenomenon and now beginning to swing back. people are desiring more small, local, face-t0-face connection. and they’re taking steps to make that happen. unplugging and relocalizing is happening all over the place.

so these conversations i’ve been having over the weekend are about exactly how to achieve this swing-back. should someone create a new social network site that is intentionally focused at a certain scale? or maybe things like facebook and twitter should have a mode/plugin where you can only connect to a capped number of people at a time? or maybe we should have to curate our friend groups on those sites? or maybe the new site (or old repurposed site) should be geography bounded? (nextdoor x facebook x foursquare)

whatever the solutions look like, i think we actually miss out on a significant portion of life when we get and stay connected with everyone. i think it’s healthy to move on. we’re not meant to be connected with everyone in our lives forever. like marie kondo says, not all our clothes are in our lives to be worn threadbare. sometimes we get something because it’s good for a season and then it’s time to move on.

it sounds a bit harsh, but i think relationships are the same way; not only because people die, but because circumstances change. we grow, we move, we evolve, we change life stages; these are all natural reasons to move on. ignoring and avoiding the reality that sometimes we need just need to say goodbye and move on from things hurts us in a bunch of ways…

ways that maybe i’ll discuss in another post.


writing spell-check, link-finding, & formatting
15:00 9:00