A wise man once told me that the key to life is loving others and making wise decisions.  He believed in his truth so much that any conversation we had would find it’s way back to his trademark phrase; “that’s why you have to love others and make wise decisions.”  It was something that was humorous to me at the time, but as I look at the social media landscape I have started to believe in this man’s truth.  The next wave of technology isn’t about the ‘Internet of Things’ or the next social network. It’s about love.

A History Lesson of Web 2.0

Here’s a crash course in the history of the web:

  • Scientists create the internet to transfer documents between science labs
  • The World Wide Web is born
  • People begin creating websites, but only those who know how to code
  • Building websites becomes easier
  • Enter social networks (MySpace, BlackPlanet)
  • Blogging starts to take off
  • Facebook hits the scene
  • User generated content becomes the norm

Web 2.0 is a term used to describe the era of user generated content.  Google defines Web 2.0 as:

the second stage of development of the World Wide Web, characterized especially by the change from static web pages to dynamic or user-generated content and the growth of social media.

When you created that blog post, posted that instagram pic, or even commented on a blog post, you became a part of web 2.0.  It’s important to understand that the original intent was to create a platform for people to share and connect with others. That was it. Because Web 2.0 was new, there wasn’t necessarily a guideline of how things should work–they left it up to the people.  And when you leave technology in the hands of the masses, things begin to change.

The Rise of Social Media

Let’s take a few moments to discuss social media.  If you were to look at the origins of social media, most websites were created as offshoots of another technology project. Facebook was created after Mark Zuckerberg created a web application, called Facemash, for students to rate each other.  Twitter was created as a simple way to send text messages. At it’s core social media was created by programmers, who were focused on solving technology issues.  When you’re building a platform you have one goal in mind, to make sure that it works.  A working platform with a large and stable user base is attractive to investors.  What happens to the people on the platform isn’t really a concern.  Take Twitter, a company that hasn’t tackled the growing problem of ‘trolls’ aka cyberbullies.  Even when there is an outcry for a better way to fix the system.

The Like Economy

So we have social networks, built by programmers as an offshoot of a initial project to solve simple technology problems.  As time passed and social media networks became the ‘it’ thing in Silicon Valley, the race began for companies to build networks that kept users engaged.  This is where likes, sharing, and followers come in. Sure, you could connect with your immediate social circle, but “succeeding” in social media means you must connect with the world. You must share posts that get likes and shares. You have to post pics that will make people click that heart icon and leave a comment.  We have become addicted to emotional fast food.

If you were to look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people use social media to satisfy the top half of the pyramid.  There’s a reason girls are half naked on every instagram post. People try to say the wittiest thing in EVERY post, and why everyone is an expert at everything.  We all want to be heard. We want that acceptance and in some cases we need that love online because we are not really getting it in “real life”.  But what do those ‘likes’ really translate into? There have been many articles that state that although we are in a connected world, we are lonelier and more depressed than were if we weren’t connected. We are addicted to the endless cycle of fast food fixes. That ‘like’ makes us feel good for .5 seconds and then we’re back on the hunt for the next like and comment.  Even trolls, the bane of the internet, are people who are not getting that acceptance.  So they lash out at whatever they can to get that attention and love.

Love is The Future

So what’s next for social media? Some people say it’s finding ways for people to segment their followers so people can talk to certain groups about certain things. Others say it’s finding better ways to filter negativity.  I’m here to say that the next wave of social media, and technology for that matter will be love. Technology, and in this case social media, will need to find a way for people to make more meaningful connections.  A person should be able to use a social network to find something with meaning…something that assists a person’s quest to truly satisfy the top half of Maslow’s Pyramid.  We live in a connected world, yet for all the people we know, all the comments and likes that we get, are we better people for it? Shouldn’t we ask more from the technology we use everyday?  Shouldn’t technology, for all it’s wonder and benefit, help us on our path to feeling loved?  Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with the platform. Maybe we just need to love others and make wise decisions.

Man, I hope this post gets some likes…

Posted by:Charles M.

Blogger.Gamer.Morehouse Man

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