Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are great at sharing fast paced entertainment media. They have made becoming an entertainer as easy as pulling out your phone, and have even become one of the top career interests for young people eager to be the next “Mr. Beast”. But people are starting to wonder whether these platforms should actually be considered social due to the fact that research has linked the use of such platforms to anxiety, depression and body image issues. Research is especially alarming when looking at the impact on teen girls.
So how is it that people can be more connected than ever in history yet still feel alone, anxious or depressed? We wanted to find out so we talked to a licensed marriage and family therapist to gain some insight into this matter. Xenia Raskin, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, California states that even though it is easier than ever to “connect,” people are still seeking out therapy and other more personal ways of relating to others. She says that embarrassment, shame and anxiety may get in the way of people seeking out support from their friends. It is the authentic emotional expression between two people that gives us the feeling of being seen and cared about, which social media doesn’t tend to provide.
There is still a lack of research on the impacts that social media has on people and its greater implications on social functioning but one thing is quite certain. People have a tendency to post idealistic images and updates that gravitate towards life’s most positive moments, this makes it hard for people to feel comfortable connecting around life’s challenges and may make us feel isolated when we don’t see the same positive experiences and people in our own life.
Will the future of social media be a change from long format videos to short format videos, or new filters to change our appearance? We don’t think so. We think that the future of social media will have a greater emphasis on authentic connections between people. The problem is, these types of interactions do not go viral, they do not get thousands of views and likes, and do not make money via advertisements, or can they?
We spoke to one social media startup from Colombia that is taking a different approach to the word “social” and is prioritizing safety, and authentic human connection above everything else. TalkFi is a mobile app that provides people with the ability to have quality conversations with others. People have been using the app for over 5 years to make friends and have authentic real connection with people as an alternative to their regular social media accounts. TalkFi is offering something different and people are responding.
Heberth Vargas, the founder of TalkFi says “people who use the app are people who want company, having a conversation with anyone in order to not feel lonely” He also saw the lack of safety measures being taken to prevent scammers and other bad people from utilizing these networks to take advantage of people. This is what set the stage for TalkFi’s development of a new way of keeping bad people from misusing its platform via a reputation algorithm.Since TalkFi started, over 90,000 people use it each month and it’s growing exponentially. This indicates a change in priority for social networks and should be seen as the first of many to focus on more authenticity in social networking. To learn more about Talkfi you can visit their website here. You can download the app which is currently only available on Android here. As a minority founded company, Heberth hopes to grow TalkFi to become a global network and be an example for other entrepreneurs. He prides himself for putting people above everything else.