Digital communities and products designed for sharing, commenting and “like” accumulation have been smash hits. But these same tools have failed to consistently foster connections that move from the digital to the human realm, proving to be a driver of, instead of a solution to, human loneliness.
While often satisfying, sharing and garnering in a permanently interconnected world is a poor substitute for real human interaction, a substitute that also creates pressure to create a digital façade of happiness and success that has little to do with our real world existence.
A new generation of technology startups seek to address this phenomenon, creating tools and communities designed not to motivate online interaction, but to create offline connections. From the dating app Bumble’s move to Bumble BFF, to NextDoor’s successful efforts to build neighborhood community, attempts to be an anti-facebook are taking off. The expectation isn’t to cure loneliness, but a new generation of entrepreneurs are certain the internet can be part of the solution, instead of driving the problem.
We will seek to answer the questions:
1. Can technology be a solution to, instead of driver of, loneliness
2. Why have social networks failed to create real world connections?
3. How are new companies innovating to become part of the solution?Austin Startup Week is supported in part by Capital Factory, Techstars, Galvanize, and Janik Vinnakota LLP. If you see someone from their teams, give them a hug and hi-five!