Especially with younger crowds, most of our socializing these days seems to happen on the Internet.
With websites and apps for pretty much every method of communication or interaction around, it seems like we’ve been trying like never before to branch out, network, meet new people, and be more social.
Or… sort of. It might depend somewhat on what you qualify as “be more social.”
The truth is it’s getting harder and harder to want to disengage from whatever screen you’re on and really spend “real world” time with people. If anything, it seems like we’re actually going in the opposite direction when it comes to meeting new people.
Think about it: what do you think are the most successful apps and networks in the social sphere, and how many of them end up connecting you to real people in the real world?
Sure, there are a bunch of apps that exist just to fulfill that function, and there has been been an increase in applications that try to help connect people in a real-world, face-to-face way. Chances are, though, most of the apps that you’ll name are apps that either connect users romantically (in some way), or offer some sort of “collectible” value to users like the ability to get a ton of “Likes,” “Reblogs,” or whatever else on something you post. (Apps that promise to just help you meet new people for the sake of friendship, without any awards, number of friends banners, or anything of the sort, though? Ha! As if!)
The problem is basically the fact that the widely-used social apps in this area are the ones that are either used for dating purposes, or help you connect to people you already know. In the case of the latter (think things like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), those apps become some sort of bizarre “friends collection” digital trophy room, where you take pride in the amount of friends, likes, comments you get. And LinkedIn? Well, there’s a reason why they still are trying to figure out ways to increase user engagement.
In many ways, it’s almost like we just create and recreate variations of the same messaging app over and over again so that we can find new ways to connect to the same people we already know. Except, the more social networks we have to help us connect and share, the more we close up and become less inclined to withdraw from our screens to share ourselves with real people.