The past two posts have been focused on some firsthand observations while participating as a member of the private beta test for Biz Stone’s new social media app: SUPER.
As with most beta experiences, being in stealth mode while testing a social media app creates a microcosmic environment where certain predictable modes of behaviour surface, including excitement, frustration, narcissism, humour, disdain and belonging.
The range of human emotions is indeed fascinating. But in the final analysis, it’s not unlike any other “life in a bubble” project where a few sentient beings react and interact within conditions and parameters of a finite environment.
It is also not unusual for very active and invested participants of the beta test to exhibit feelings of being special if not entitled, given their insular settings among co-participants with whom they can easily obtain biofeedback. This is not a pejorative comment. This is simply a psycho-social reality.
So it’s no wonder that when the flood gates open and the app goes public, the few who consider themselves ‘early adopters’ not only have more implicit knowledge of the app’s ethos and mechanics, but they’ve also relegated specific emotional tags around the beta experience, which in effect forms a natural bias (see my somewhat verbose review of the app—you’d think I was undergoing apotheosis or something equally grandiose).
Having pondered all this, it dawned on me that there remains one most obvious question: where is all this headed? How will the most ‘sticky’, automatically relatable, widely used (if not depended on) social media app look like?
Currently, Facebook is touted as being the go-to social media company that’s pretty much mind-controlled the majority of earth’s digitized population to abandon conventional norms of communications, from snail mail to SMS.
But is obtaining a critical mass of app users truly the end game? I suppose that would make sense one-dimensionally for the creators and investors of those apps, specifically within the context of its ability to monetize, secure ridiculous valuations, issue IPO’s and eventually what .. self-implode into obscurity?
Twitter, as I’ve noted over and over again, is what I consider social media’s most iconic app: lightweight but packs a punch. In fact I consider Twitter to be model alpha: it embodies the most practical, rudimentary elements of an app capable of instantaneous wide scale reach.
But whatever draws your attention to incite you to communicate or connect with others, be they static visuals (Instagram, Pinterest), animated visuals (YouTube, Vine), anonymous interaction (Secret, Yik Yak), or any number of predominant behaviours humans exhibit while interfacing with each other, the context around the intent will logically predicate the purpose and goal of the action.
I would very much like to offer an exhaustive essay deconstructing the entire SUPER beta experience, since there are several nuggets of observations which prove certain behavioural theories accurately.
But I am not not exactly writing a formal paper on the subject (and certainly not getting compensated for any effort). Also, it won’t prove anything outrageously novel or insightful to the general digital population.
But I would submit these related thoughts:
- We are tinkering with (and obviously becoming dependent on) modes of communication that happen on exclusively virtual environments. Virtual is the black. It’s not new anymore. But we sure easily take it for granted.
- Our indelible infatuation with technology and how it is, in theory, helping shape our lives for the better should always be viewed as one aspect of our existence. While we inhabit the current lifetime (space/time), we must never readily abandon what preceded this infatuation: the basic, tangible, IRL social interactions which have, in reality, shaped our respective personalities and sociological predispositions to date.
Next evolutionary stage for social apps?
I can’t claim to even form a sound hypothetical scenario on that one. In essence, we must base our personal theories around what we’ve witnessed, what we’ve experienced firsthand, and how others react.
Even after the “Social Rapture” is all said and done, I think social media, in its current form, is but a must-have commodity. Not as basic a need as food and shelter but close enough to be a nice-to-have utility.
Then again, that’s what we, who are heavily immersed in it, would say. Isn’t it?