I’ve been thinking about this question for quite some time. When you think about social media, the usual culprits come to mind… Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn… Pinterest? hq overview? YouTube? TikTok? MySpace?
On all these platforms, you get the ability to post an update, and then people in the community like, reply/comment, or share it further. But in its essence, this is still one-way passive communication. Moreover, how is this different from the early days of the Internet, when all we had were newsthreads and discussion boards? The only difference now is that we have a better User Interface and a Social Graph attached to it.
Does that mean these platforms are truly “social” by nature?
To be truly social, social media needs to enable bi-directional communication, in the form of real, two-way conversations. This is what being “social” means, IMHO, and this is also what makes us human.
A great conversation with a friend, family member or even a stranger can make you instantly feel better, because as humans, we’re innately born to connect and converse with each other – this is what sets us apart as a species too. Just think of Tom Hanks on Castaway, and how he started talking to a volleyball just too keep from going insane.
One person’s status update may be informative/provocative, but a two-way conversation is what makes things interesting! Conversations are more fluid in nature, interactive, and expansive – they go back and forth like a live tennis match – you also learn more and get to see things from different perspectives.
I think this is also the reason why podcasting interviews have become so popular. People are going back to their roots and realizing that there’s no better way to connect with someone than by having an audio or video conversation. The spoken word trumps all. Conversations help form stronger relationships, deeper bonds, and authentic connections. The true promise of social media can only be realized through real, two-way conversations.
So what do you think? Is social media truly social? Will it ever be?