Over the years, three things have become very clear about social networks. The first is that broadly speaking, they’re drastically altering our day-to-day lives and the ways in which we interact with one another. The second is that the big players – namely, Facebook and Twitter – have probably become too big to be displaced. Suffice it to say if Facebook can’t be defeated by a recent, massive privacy scandal (it’s rebounded completely since the Cambridge Analytica news went public), it’s probably going to stay on top. The third thing that’s become clear, however, is that entrepreneurs and developers will never stop trying to open up new avenues for social networking interest.
If we could predict exactly what these avenues might look like, we probably wouldn’t be writing about it – we’d be trying to make money off of the ideas. Nevertheless, looking at the general tech landscape, we have a few ideas as to what potential new social media could look like.
1. Platforms For Women
This is something we’d never have predicted a few years ago, particularly since so much of modern social media is specifically about interacting with the opposite sex and sparking relationships. However, there are also growing concerns about women being harassed or otherwise treated unfairly online, and one company has also raised the issue of women having to make “carefully curated social media presences.” To solve this problem, Maverick has emerged as a female-only social media platform daring girls to be their authentic selves. It’s a fascinating concept that could certainly catch on and inspire imitation.
2. Social Gaming Platforms
Gaming is already quite social, but we wouldn’t really call games social networks just yet. Instead, think back to earlier internet days, and the kinds of arcade sites that would allow for usernames and chats. This feels like something an innovative company could bring back with a little more organization, either tapping into retro arcades (which have been made popular again by mobile devices) or even casino games. Players today can visit any mainstream casino site and find dozens of the most popular games, along with other people playing. There’s nothing to stop a developer from building on this idea to combine social interaction and gaming – something like a virtual version of an in-person arcade where people might hang out.
3. Mixed Reality Platforms
Perhaps the most obvious avenue for social media, though one there’s been surprisingly little buzz about, is mixed reality. Encompassing both VR and AR, this is a concept that would allow for a more visual component to social interaction online. In VR we could actually walk up and speak to digital versions of our friends or family members; in AR we could control avatars of ourselves moving about digitally rendered 3D communities. Neither idea would be quite so convenient as basic, text- and image-based social media, in that real-time interaction would be needed. But it’s still a very intriguing concept that someone, at some point, is going to get just right.
4. Alternate Reality Platforms
This is not merely the same thing as mixed reality, at least as we’re describing it. We’re referring instead to an idea that was posted about at an Irish tech site, known as UHIVE. It’s actually a little bit tricky to grasp (it uses the blockchain to design a social media platform), but the interesting thing is that it comes packed with two worlds: the Civilized World and The Grey World. The former is essentially a version of an ordinary social network: you are yourself, you interact with real friends, there are social norms, etc. The Grey World, however, is an obscure, alternate reality that, as the write-up says, has successfully revived anonymity for users. It is, by the sound of things, a bit of a free-for-all for creative energy and anonymous social browsing. This sort of balance, between real and artificial social spaces, is something that could certainly catch on.