Relationships and social networks

I find the intersection of technology and human interaction fascinating. Specifically, I am interested in how technology can be used to mimic and augment existing human interactions. I’ve written a bit about Snapchat and how temporary social media is brilliant at mimicking real life experiences. Similarly, the telephone, Skype, and Facetime all use technology to mimic/enable real life conversations.

One area technology hasn’t mimicked well is the formation of human relationships.

What happens when we meet a stranger in real life? We look at them. We observe their dress and body language. We make some small talk to break the ice, and collection enough information to create a first impression. As time goes by, we dig deeper into the relationship, delving into our personal history, our values, our hopes and dreams. We share our lives. And in doing so, we build rapport and trust.

What is the online equivalent? There really isn’t any.

We connect on Facebook and instantly access a stranger’s timeline and photo albums. We look at a person’s Twitter or Pinterest and can instantly view all of their public interests and tweets. There is nothing realistic about this. We don’t gradually get to know someone. Instead, we instantly have access to someone’s information.

This instant access may be OK is some situations, but can be harmful in other situations such as in dating. In real life, after a first date, I only know a little about my date. However, if we connect on Facebook, I can see all of my dates photos, timeline shares, and ex-relationships. IMHO, it breaks the dating process, and doesn’t allow me to slowly learn about a date. That is why the last time I was single, I consciously did not connect with any of my dates on Facebook.

There has to be something better here. Is there some way to create an user experience where people gradually get to know one another? I don’t know exactly what it would look like, but would be glad to see something like this exist.

P.S. This is post number #90 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

5 thoughts on “Relationships and social networks

  1. This is an interesting point. However, many (most?) people maintain carefully curated Facebook pages, with only information they want the public to see, typically portraying them in a good light. So there are still a lot of things that remain to be discovered through dating, friendship, etc, in the real world. I went back to Australia to visit my friends recently, and it was so refreshing to see them again after many years … we are friends on Facebook but there is nothing like hanging out at a bar together and sharing a drink and talking face to face. It seems like social networks are a way to maintain a little bit of contact so you don’t lose touch completely, but I still prefer my interactions in the real world when possible. I think deep down we are still social animals, and you can’t replace millions of years of evolution with a computer 🙂

    • Hey Wayne!

      Yeah, you point to a different problem where when you connect to a new friend (or a potential date) on Facebook, they create a first impression with your social network persona. This is most likely a completely different impression than the person would get by only interacting in person.

      I definitely agree that nothing replaces in-person interaction. That is why I’m starting to believe that the point of dating apps are only to connect people. Nothing really matters except getting people to their first few minutes of real-life interaction.

      Again, I’m not sure how it would be done, and if you could gain traction with such a site, but it would be cool to see someone try a social network site that mimicked how meet/know each other in real life.

  2. well things have changed in the world. I remember I time when my parents told me you could leave your door open and you can’t do that anymore. The integrity of people have made it harder , for people to interact with other people or implicitly trust them. Hence people are living sacred lives and ultimately you have people that don’t want to open up so sudden , social network or not that’s the reality of the situation

    • Hey youngrow10,

      I’m not sure if the integrity of people is changing, or if because of technology, the world is becoming smaller and we come into contact with more people without integrity. Intersting to think about..

      Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Tips For Dating A Shy Girl | Splatter

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