One of the things we’re interested in here at JStrike is how technology can be used to increase human connection. A lot’s been written about how Facebook and social networks like it simultaneously make us more connected while isolating us further, but not much has been said about “how” Facebook pulls off this feat. Too often, Facebook’s alienating effect is just chalked up to it being on the web.
The real problem is that it does not facilitate real human connection.
Its success is based on exploiting the fulfillment of the need to impress, rather than the need to express. It’s a shallow need for external validation, with which we are all personally familiar, and which Facebook exploits with splendor by making everyone a content broadcaster. Put another way, Facebook is nothing more than a never-ending, ever-more-wearying show and tell session, with everyone shouting “Look at me now!” as loud as they can.
I don’t know if anyone has put an obsessive Facebook user in an FMRI scanner yet, but I’m willing to bet that it would show increased activity in the mesocorticolimbic center upon receiving notification that someone “like’d” their post. That’s the place in the brain housing that part of the dopamine reward network, which lights up like a christmas tree when an addict gets a fix. All that relentless activity of posting, liking and commenting is little more than the digital equivalent of a hamster getting a pellet for performing a behavior. For Facebook, more actions equals more clickthroughs, but as a user-experience, it’s pretty lame.
Facebook is about getting that quick attention fix. This is why you rarely see a discussion on a post last longer than a week. Facebook is the place where weak memes go to die a hasty death. It feeds on the massive quantities of weak memes born of insecurities we all share. In the Facebook universe nothing lasts.
Facebook technology doesn’t have what it takes to promote the staying power of a strong, useful meme. If a strong meme survives in the Facebook universe, it’s only because it is strong enough to persist of it’s own accord, which is to say, it does not need Facebook to replicate.
Isn’t it time we built a technology which encourages the fulfillment of our need to express? One which provides a platform for a real human connection in the virtual realm, not just a way to blast our minutiae at full volume for all the world to hear? One which sustains those ideas which elevate the human experience, inspire the mind, and lift the spirit? These are the questions we’re asking ourselves at JStrike right now as we develop our digital shows. It’s a fun challenge and one we hope you’ll follow along with us.
-Pete Chudykowski is the Tech Architect of JStrike Studio