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Slow social in 2020 and beyond

SpaceHey is doing something that might feel anachronistic in 2020, but is it?

In 2020 we are used to fast interactions on our social networks, that constant buzz of our phones in our pockets, the deluge of likes, shares, retweets, comments, all repeated in threads and subthreads. We (doom)scroll for new impulses, we amplify, we boost, we block on a whim, we meticulously use the most hashtags possible for the maximum impact and reach.
We either livestream whatever, or post soundbite-sized videos, riding the most current trend and challenge.
We live fast social.
We live in FOMO because YOLO.

But it wasn't always like that.

10-ish years ago Facebook was already taking over the throne from the first globally popular social network site: MySpace.

It was slow social. Classic MySpace was never optimized for mobile, not that anything was truly optimized at the time, even when the first smartphones appeared, the most groundbreaking feature for social media was posting via SMS - but not MMS - on some sites.

Our phones were Sidekicks, or Nokias, or some other "dumb", feature devices. We did social on our desktop computers and laptops. Mobile "broadband" was slow anyway, but often wired internet too. When we were offline, away from our Macs/PCs we contacted via text and call. We took our (mirror) selfies with pocket digital cams. We couldn't upload in a snap. We had to copy the photo from the cam to the computer, and then upload from the browser. Optionally throw some filters on it in PS.

We were not distracted and bombarded by notifications all the time. Even if we spent more than healthy time on MySpace - because of course we did -, we had a clear distinction between online, and offline life.

Yet this world of social created the OG internet influencers, like Jeffree Star, Hanna Beth, Audrey Kitching, and the Millionaires. They did it before Facebook was suitable for self promotion, before YouTube became the massive platform it is now, and long before Vine and especially TikTok. Their activity was relatively "fast", but nowhere as fast as social is today.

While there were all kinds of young people - because make no mistake, MySpace was for teens and twenty somethings - The Scene dominated. It was the primary - and for some time the only - platform for bands, musicians, record labels, festivals (eg. Warped, Cornerstone), non-profit organizations (eg. TWLOHA), magazines, vanity clothing brands (eg. Atticus), subculture stores and brands (eg. Hot Topic), and oh boy did they utilize it to the maximum: beautifully customized profiles, announcements in bulletins, event dates, fan interactions, they were all there. But slower than what we do and demand today.

Even the 2008 election made its impact on MySpace, I clearly remember that Obama had a profile, and it was utilized accordingly. MySpace itself ran an election feature.

It was different.

Can slow social cut it in 2020 and beyond?

As strange as it might sound, I think yes. There are some (or many?) who don't want to be bombarded by notifications all the time, who switch their phones to DND 24/7, and would rather stay away from those sites and apps that drag us into an addictive behavior.
It has been revealed that Facebook explicitly uses algorithms to satisfy and overfeed our neural reward system. It's a drug. All the popular sites and apps work like this. It's how they make money, afterall.

I've left Facebook in March, I think, its memory already fading, and I don't miss it at all. I'm on Twitter, but often try to limit my use.

Sometimes it's better to slow down.

Enjoy the time you spend on social, and reserve time for, well, anything else you would do offline. Cherish your time, use social smarter, slower. Don't let FOMO rule over you.

If SpaceHey and the users manage do it right, this site can give back a sense of social networking that we have lost.

Make the 2020s the decade when we embrace slow social again.

It's not anachronistic.


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Tanner

Tanner's profile picture

You Nailed it! I am one of those that hate what social media has become.


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Jinnicide

Jinnicide's profile picture

Completely agree, I am totally in that camp.


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blodyn

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You're totally right.

I also find that the 'slow social' websites, particularly indie ones, tend to tailor their services to the needs of the people that use them instead of relying on an algorithm or adding what every other social network has.

It seems to me that there's a bit of 'keeping up with the Joneses' going on with the more mass social media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter all now have a 'Story' feature that was on... Snapchat originally. All of them have different aims and ways of expression, yet they all want to outdo one another.


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ᵔᴥᵔ 𝓮𝓶𝓲 ᵔᴥᵔ

ᵔᴥᵔ 𝓮𝓶𝓲 ᵔᴥᵔ 's profile picture

this is a really thoughtful post. I like the idea behind slow social and the mindfulness that goes with it. I also only have a singular and infrequently used twitter account. Social media in 2020 feels like upkeep, or like a chore.


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Tim

Tim's profile picture

It feels like much of social media has been a bait-and-switch. We got hooked on keeping up with friends and writing posts and seeing photos and whatnot- and then it got switched to something else entirely.
And it's happened over and over- as even smaller projects sold out for that sweet sweet VC money and whatever.
Fingers double crossed that doesn't happen here.


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GuitarNinja

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It seems that the new currency on the web is attention. Like the slot machines in the casino, it's trying as hard as it can to keep you in the hot seat. Thanks for the thoughtful blog post!


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sto

sto's profile picture

Time is a precious resource, I feel like we have to relearn how to use it wisely, for us and others, especially in digital social spaces. Thx Zsolt.


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alex

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Right on! I've also been thinking of how on social media today you are either a big whale and you basically preach to your followers, or you're a small fish and you're lucky if even your friends notice your posts.

When it's about actual genuine interest the "discovery algorithm" switches into the user's hands, meaning followings for most people won't grow into huge things, but even as a "nobody" you can participate, and come to know people, in small groups.

I remember this feeling when I was a part of some forum communities around the 2006 era, you were part of something. Nowadays everyone wants to be a celebrity but they don't realise that us humans simply don't have the mental bandwidth available for everyone to be a celebrity, it'll always be a tiny subset of the population. In these type of communities (like SpaceHey), you realise that you don't need to be a celebrity for your voice to matter, you already matter as an individual!


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An

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Really well written Article!!


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Zsolt

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I reserve the right to admit that I might be influenced by nostalgia, and some of my memories about MySpace are clouded, or unknown because I wasn't exposed to them. Yes, there was drama, yes there was abuse, yes there was bullying. But even those were nowhere near the level of what is done on current social networking sites. The internet mob thrives on fast social, and it's often brutal.


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