Keeping it real in the world of social media: and why most platforms got it wrong.
Updated: Jan 7
Why does a growing number of social media users report feeling inadequate and lonely after browsing through their feeds? Why do so many other users feel dissatisfied? Why is there a growing body of research uncovering worrisome connections between social media use and stress, anxiety and depression?
Here’s another question: wasn’t social media supposed to bring us closer by making us all feel more “connected”?
While some among the most popular social media channels or platforms might have had sincerely humble beginnings with an almost boy-scout level earnestness throbbing deep within the hearts of their founders, these same platforms now stand as leviathans - drunk with the vulgar power of being able to make or break presidents. WOW!
But let us focus more on the questions posed above. As social media leaves a large part of its user base marooned with feelings of inadequacy and isolation, the time has unequivocally arrived for social media to evolve further.
One thing that is common amongst all the platforms is their singular focus on a one-to-many interaction. You post a picture of yourself enjoying a hot cup of tea and you get likes, or hearts, or karma, or upvotes, or retweets; choose your poison. If you’re popular you get comments too! But the message more or less remains the same. Validation. “I have arrived, shower me with love”. It’s almost like an auction, where the commodity being sold is you and people pay with their (short) attention spans.
When you break it down to the basics, it becomes plain to see why so many of us are so dissatisfied with our social media use. To formalize things - a one-to-many user model is focused on providing users with the gratification of being appreciated (read: validated) by their peers or other users. You feel happy when you get positive attention and when you don’t you feel sad. Even if you’re one of the popular ones, there’s a constant desire to be appreciated, which happens to present itself in the form of an insatiable hunger for acknowledgement. In simple words, no matter how many “likes” you get, it’s never enough.
This is exactly the point where the relevance of one-to-one social interactions becomes not only attractive but also imperative. As a social species, the desire to have meaningful conversations is inherent to us. We crave for 1-to-1 dialogue, an interaction that could reach out to us from beyond the superficial, help us discover our passions and aid in learning more of ourselves. We want to make friends and find partners with whom we can discuss tirelessly the lengths of our universe or why yawning is so contagious. When we realize that our lives do not need to be a derivation of what others will come to “like” and “follow”, we begin opening up to something more genuine. Something that can help us connect with one another meaningfully. Something that adds positively to our mental health and not deduct from it.
And thus, Nile was born, acknowledging our intrinsic desire to have heart to heart connections. The app wants to transform social media, not by lambasting its contemporaries but by giving people the opportunity to engage in one to one dialogues over topics they are passionate about. This is how it works. People get inspired by accessing thousands of articles and stories on their favorite topics. Then they get instantly paired with someone who just read the same article and a discussion ensues. The identities of all users on the platform are kept entirely anonymous and each day conversations refresh to start the day anew.
In a time where there is so much that could hamper our mental and spiritual wellbeing, Nile aims to put our energies, time and spirits to better use by providing a space for all of us to connect with a deeper sense of purpose. The social media evolution that we all deserve has finally begun.