By: Saskia Sumida
Technology is no longer simply growing, it is evolving. Just as the niches in technology are evolving as well. How does this happen? Well, let’s first nod in agreement that technology platforms are nothing without the people using them. Can we then also come to the consensus that new technology serves concurrently one overarching theme: to connect users with one another? Again and again, we find new ways to extend our social network so that our apps and websites cross paths with one another. Such is the magic of social media, enabling us to create our different tribes*, share and receive media in those groups, and then connect separate tribes together if we so wish to.
This week, there is a new cue for the extenuation of social media that could (very possibly) soon be affecting how you view the ways in which you interact with or talk to other people. Not just people as in close friends, but those that are considered strangers. Let me explain.
Miranda July, a film director, has partnered with Miu Miu, a high-end fashion brand, to create a new messaging application. This program was conceived in March of 2014 and later introduced with a short film at the 2014 Venice Film Festival. The movie was commissioned for Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales. Introducing: Somebody.
Somebody is a mobile phone application that changes the context of message delivery. Let’s start from what the average messaging app user is accustomed to. You, dear reader, want to reach out to your best friend. Let’s call her Jill. You open up “Somebody” and scroll through the contacts list until you reach Jill. The app says she’s available so you decide to write to her. This is where things will start to look a little different.
First, you’ll choose an “action,” an emotion or inflection you want to go along with your message. Let’s say this time we’re going to be using the option to talk “confidently”. In case you were wondering, you can also prompt the actions “nervously, longingly, crying” or more directly, “start air quotes, tell your life story, fist bump, kiss.” After the action, you’re going to need to compose a message to Jill. How about, “Doug and Kristine just got back together which means I won the bet and you’re buying us pizza tonight!” Happy with your message, you decide to send it out but it doesn’t go directly to your friend. Instead, the note is sent to the Somebody user nearest to her. Both people are then notified and given information on how to meet up nearby. Once together, the person who received the message will deliver it to Jill following the commands you’ve given. The message then facilitates a new type of engagement along with an acting challenge.
Somebody was built as part public art piece and part twist on social media presence. As for me, I love the idea of Somebody and I think that the app says other important things about how we, as part of the tech generation, communicate with one another. Consider that all other social media accounts make it easier to avoid interaction with strangers. Not just this, but these accounts also serve to replace awkward face-to-face moments with text and emojis on screen aka proximity not required. Not to say that I don’t appreciate and love these platforms because I do. I’m still a millennial, after all.
However, I think Somebody creates a perspective often overlooked by those who grew up with the social network. On a day-to-day basis, I find several ways to use my phone as a way to avoid situations that make me uncomfortable. See: scrolling through my phone when in a crowded elevator or putting on my headphones when riding the train home. Silence is uncomfortable and we have found a way to fill it.
But what happens when we purposely force ourselves to not only meet new people but also share our personal messages with them? When we use our phones to push us into new situations out of our comfort zone? To me, that’s redefining social networking. “Somebody” still enables that sharing aspect we crave and also furthers communication between people, even adding a third party to the mix. An interesting idea in itself, Somebody also opens up the potential for other tech mediums to change up how we view social media and even ourselves as users of this media.
So far, this app operates around eight major hotspots with the closest one in Boston being the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. However, the “Somebody” website has instructions to set up your own hotspot if you so wish. Suggested locations include your school, workplace, concert, etc. I can’t help but to think of how much impact this app has the potential to use, especially at Emerson College where it seems we are prone to the spotlight.
Until next time!
*Tribes as in community as in I thought using a class key term would give this blog post an intellectual boost.
“Somebody.” Somebody. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2014. <http://somebodyapp.com/>.