By now you’d have read or heard that ‘Software is eating the world’ — a famous observation and the truth revealed by Marc Andreessen. And the speed at which technology is moving, it doesn’t look like a cliché anymore. But I have always found myself standing at the intersection of Software and humans. How it impacts our life patterns and creates new behaviors.
Prior to MySpace, Friendster, Linkedin and Facebook era, we used to have teachers, uncles, mentors, guides, colleagues, managers, bosses and the list goes on. Today everyone is a ‘Friend’. I meet a senior gentleman at a conference, I send him a friend request. You found your class teacher, the Miss Femina, started using Facebook, you send her a friend request. A recruiter came to your class, you send him/her a friend request. It doesn’t matter which country, age-group, or culture you belong to, people behave all the way same. The casual culture in Silicon Valley has slowly engulfed the cultures all around the world.
I think ‘Software is eating the cultures’.
At the subconscious level, we have probably stopped caring about this culture conundrum anymore. As long as we can keep up with each other’s life’s events, the software tools serve their purpose. It is solid and clear that these software platforms help us manage our existing and well developed relationships much better than we could manage ourselves otherwise.
However, we seem to be struggling around managing not-so-well-developed relationships. Do you accept stranger’s friend requests on Facebook or Linkedin?
As soon as we try to manage not-so-well-developed relationships or transient relationships using the same tools, tension starts to creep in. The problem is not only limited to extremely personal network on Facebook but also visible on professional network on Linkedin.
Mark Suster, a well respected VC in the valley at Upfront Ventures, touched upon the real-world relationship conundrum in his recent blog post “Understanding your true character as an entrepreneur”. I’m highlighting an excerpt from his blog post below
“… My 20s and 30s were about meeting lots of new people and always willing and wanting to engage in new relationships and dialogs. Call it the “wedding party years” when you constantly met groups of people and friends. My 40s are more guarded. I care a lot more about the time I have with my true friends than superficial openings of new ones. Don’t get me wrong — I open the door to new relationships all the time. But I’ve become more adept at filtering out who will likely be a lifelong friend and who is likely to be transactional. It turns out that most people in life are transactional for you — and that’s ok ….”
I couldn’t agree with him more. If most people in life are transactional to us and since we do not have social platforms designed to help us manage these relationships well, this means all of us should have our portion of tensions managing these relationships online.
Think of last time when you received a random ‘friend request’ and you wondered how do I even respond to the person? or why did he send the request in the first place? And sometimes when you reach out to someone you don’t know, you wonder whether you will ever hear back. Few days later you even question, “why Can’t people be courteous enough to even acknowledge the message?”
It is definitely not because of the lack of time. It’s difficult to buy this argument. The fact that busiest people through my definition find time to answer questions on Quora, share content on Twitter, or post on their blog regularly tells me that the reason is something else. Something that needs attention.
It is pretty loud and clear to me that human connection for 2nd dgree and beyond is experiencing tension with existing tools. In the next post I’ll share my thoughts on why the human connection experience is broken. Stay tuned.