Self-awareness in social media
Over the past week, a lot of people reached out to tell me how much they missed Secret, because they felt much more “in tune with their friends.” I often thought about that too, but dismissed it because I closed that chapter almost two years ago. I was certain it would never work.
The early pre-hyped version of Secret, used among friends, was actually a very useful tool. We were able to speak freely with each other in a way that we’d never experienced before. That’s why we launched it. But, it got away from us and the rest is history.
Secret is dead. But, I believe that a product like Secret should exist if it truly can foster more self-awareness.
My focus has and continues to remain entirely on Bold (bold.co), a long-form content sharing tool for companies. But, I know some good people that long for that first version of Secret, especially after this past week. So even though I can’t dedicate my time, I feel passionate about being involved in a project that can help provide a safe space for speaking truth, practicing empathy and being your most authentic self.
Many people will think this is a terrible idea, and I totally understand where they’re coming from. Many of the reasons they express are valid and should be considered from the start. So here’s my thinking for any team that takes this on:
- It must start small, fun and useful (obvious)
- It must be tested in private beta with a relatively small set of users (probably for a while)
- It must prove that sustained abuse or bullying is really hard, if not impossible
- It must be resilient to hacking/doxing (data ephemerality)
- It must be self-sustainable and not take institutional funding (making money is not the goal)
- It must donate a majority of any revenue to important non-profits (e.g., ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Stomp Out Bullying, etc)
All of this is currently a thought experiment and may never see the light of day, but it comes from a good place and a strong desire to see far more understanding, empathy and self-awareness in our country’s future, starting with those closest to us.
FYI: If you’re curious, below are some of my thoughts on where this is all coming from and why.
Like millions of others, the results of our 2016 general election stunned and shook me to my core. I’d never felt such a visceral fear for our country. Utterly exhausted from the emotional hit, I fell asleep with tears rolling down my cheeks that night, in disbelief.
My raw feelings quickly transformed into an unrelenting desire to do something. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed to act before I started “accepting” what had just happened as the new normal.
I’ve spent the last 4 days trying to understand why so many people cast ballots differently than I did. Some really smart people have identified a lot of plausible reasons, everything from Comey’s ill-timed releases to fake news masquerading as the truth on Facebook.
But I kept coming back to one thing that bothered the hell out of me.
I learned our nation is more divided than ever while realizing how truly unaware I was.
At least 30% of my Facebook friends (including family) are self-identifying Republicans and/or Trump supporters. On Twitter, I followed pundits and politicians from both sides of the aisle. I read everything from NYT and Politico to Drudge and Breitbart. I watched CNN, Colbert, The Daily Show, and SNL.
The majority of content I saw on Twitter either dismissed and mocked Trump’s campaign. On Facebook, my news feed showed me more of what I wanted to see based on what I “liked” (pro-Dem news and posts) and less of what I needed to see: Honest posts from real friends that don’t share my views. I was addicted.
I was so caught up in Trump’s rhetoric that I projected it onto nearly anyone who supported him. I often felt contempt, which is the least productive feeling for building bridges.
But, a voice in my head continued to tell me, “There’s something going on here.” Trump couldn’t have said it better himself, “THIS IS A MOVEMENT.” When that voice became louder, I took to the phone banks and volunteered, but it was far, far too late.
It’s 2016, my friends. We should be in a much healthier place as a nation than we are today. And I can’t help but shake that a lot of this could have been avoided. We can do better.