There are a few different types of people when it comes to their approach to social media. Categorising people isn’t a good thing, but sometimes the simplification that comes from generalisation helps to describe the world. They are necessary and can be helpful if used with care and moderation. This is one of those simplifications.
There are a few different types of people then. There are those, who don’t understand and don’t want to be a part of social media. And they don’t and they aren’t. There are those, who are happily using everything they can. They don’t care about privacy and moral dilemmas. There are those, who seek an audience and who build their business with and around social media. They don’t care about community and conversation.
And there are those, who want to experience the social part of social media but without the data mining, without supporting shady businesses and without seeing ads and influencers every few posts. They have migrated, are migrating or will migrate to decentralized social networks.
Judging all those people aren’t my job, nor do I want to do it. What I want to do is to point out another group. The group that isn’t vocal and visible, but it is important. Those are the people who are seeking for friends. But building friendship takes time. Takes energy. It means taking a risk.
However, building relationship doesn’t need fast pace. It does need deep conversations and sharing thoughts, emotions and vulnerabilities. It does need talking about private experiences and intimate history. On the technical level, it does need data encryption. On the spiritual level it does need trust. Both in the person and in the technology.
None of the existing social media platforms can deliver this. But there is one, which can. And has been doing that for over fifty years. It is e-mail. It is slow, but it can be private when using with PGP keys. On technical level the goal is achieved. On the spiritual however, time will show.
Slow communication vastly increases a chance of building a bond between people. This is something that social media and chat apps cannot deliver by definition. Chat apps are good for people who already know each other and who communicate on daily basis. But they aren’t designed to help build new relationships. Social media apps aren’t good at all. Mastodon is a glorious exception but it has its own flaws. Unfortunately, while it can be used to meet new interesting people, it can’t be used to deepen those relationships. It shouldn’t be, because it lacks the basic requirement – privacy.
We live in a world of fast consumption, fast communication, fast everything. It won’t change. It will be even worse. Is there a place for slowly developing friendships and steadily growing relationships? There is. But it’s getting harder and harder and the number of people who are ready and willing to do so, is constantly decreasing.
There’s no point in fighting the inevitable. But there’s no need to cry. At the end how many friends does one need? There’s no need to build a huge community of thousands when we can manage about five close relationships and a dozen collegial ones. What we need is a way to meet new people and patience to build those relationships over time. Slowly, carefully and tenderly.
There’s a place for tenderness and closeness in this crazy fast-paced world.