Why is social media so successful?
While WhatsApping with my sister this morning about Ivanka Trump’s dress, I had an epiphany: it’s all about the insignificant interactions. We often think that relationships are built on the big things: inviting people to celebrations and keeping them informed of important news. As Brene Brown says in Daring Greatly, trust is built by being there for the big things like funerals.
All this is true. But Brene herself points out that trust is like a jar of marbles, built by being there for a friend or family member in small ways that eventually create a trustful relationship. And I believe that true closeness is built on the insignificant interactions.
When I first moved to Israel, there was no way to communicate regularly with my parents and sisters. We wrote letters (but that’s not the same), we called sometimes (but as phone calls were expensive they were also short and used to relay important information). As for my friends from college who live in Israel, we maintained a relationship by phone, but as we got busier and busier with careers and kids, our interactions dwindled to the yearly Independence Day get-together.
And then social media arrived in our lives. We share the little moments, the things that make us who we are. The things that matter today but won’t tomorrow. We can argue politics as if we are sitting around someone’s dorm room, we can kvetch about the kids and the never-ending chores as if we are all on the same park bench and we can gossip about celebrities as though we’re at a Sunday dinner.
Yes, people use social media to announce big news like engagements, births and deaths. Yes, they use it to market their businesses and their brands. But the greatest success of social media lies in the ability to create continued conversation about relatively unimportant stuff. We’re not just inviting you to our celebrations, we’re inviting you into our homes on a regular basis.