So I look around me and I see how the Internet, particularly social media, has affected people over the years. I’ve seen a simple concept of interconnecting people from around the globe go from bringing a sense of community to brewing a battle zone of conflict, where the weapon of choice is venom; used for spewing vitriol and spreading toxicity. A good example of this would be during the 2016 Election. There were many an argument on social media over why they thought their candidate was the best choice and anyone who didn’t agree with them were crazy, stupid, or any other demeaning word you could possibly think of. Bots were created in attempts to persuade others opinions, which has also happened in other elections since. Simply put, things were really boiling to a head and the dark side of the Net had shown itself, more clearer than ever.
We must remember that none of the people who invented these apps had any intention for this to happen, and none of them could have predicted the long-term consequences they wrought. They have openly acknowledged their well-meaning intentions; to bring the world together like never before. Whether this was due in part or not to the Silicon Valley get-rich-quick rush of the 1990s and 2000s is uncertain (although possible). However, many budding entrepreneurs at the time were dedicated to helping bring friends, families, and organizations together in a way the world had never seen. While the Internet had been heavily gaining traction in the years prior, never had there been a faster, more efficient way to connect with people than to use apps like Facebook, Twitter, etc. You could even download these apps to your phone and access them anywhere you went whether at home or on the go.
While this has certainly proven to be a convenience for many, this has also brought a sense of overwhelm and certain privacy or security risks. On top of the aforementioned drama, these sites have been accused of exploiting personal data without user consent. As a result, many have become wary and distrusting of these services and are concerned we may be setting the stage for a real-life 1984. There have also been debates over how it affects our social skills and, ultimately, the human touch we share with each other when meeting in person.
All this being said, I wonder if there may be a way to possibly leverage the efficiency of these technologies (social media, the Internet, or information technology at large) while never compromising on the human experience. Perhaps we could design not just an app, but a system, that could encourage face-to-face interaction with others. Make it a very stimulating experience that is easy to use that would have consumers going back to it. It would keep people engaged with the real world and not have themselves glued to a screen all day. This could not only make for better human interaction, but even prevent countless accidents annually by moving vehicles such as cars or free up mental space from distraction and allow users to focus more on their own lives.
Perhaps the idea sounds contradictory; an app but not an app, social media but not social media (or social without the media). I do think this would be something that could tremendously benefit humanity. The goal is to have as little human intrusion as possible, and the trick being how we can leverage the pluses of these other technologies while providing for a very human experience like we saw prior the rise in popularity of them.