Sunday April 23, 2017

Stop scrolling and start connecting

Deep interests like hobbies can fuel connection.

Deep interests like hobbies can fuel connection. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Listen 8:43

Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family - the people you already know, or have just met.

Now, a new social network aims to connect you with people you don't yet know, but are nearby -- and share your hobbies, passions, and career interests.

353 Gina Bianchini

Gina Bianchini

The premise of Mighty Networks is that it's built from the ground up to connect you to others around what  Gina Bianchini, the founder and CEO, calls "deep interests".

"It's something I think is absolutely critical to our human existence," Gina says.

"Deep interests are the things that bring us together and break down barriers."

But doesn't Facebook Groups give people a way to connect over shared interests?

Gina thinks Facebook Groups are limited and "reinforce the friends you already have."

"It's almost impossible to meet people, for example, who are near you, who are navigating having a child with type 1 diabetes," she argues.

"It was only in meeting other kids that belonged to the same 'club'...that I went from being isolated and feeling very different to feeling connected again."

Gina has a long history of working on ways to connect people over niche interests.

She was co-founder (with Marc Andreessen) of Ning, an online service that let people form custom social networks.

Her interest in creating this kind of connection comes from her personal history.

"My father was killed by a drunk driver when I was 11," she says.

From "feeling isolated and feeling alone, and knowing that it was only in meeting other kids that belonged to the same 'club'...that I went from being isolated and feeling very different to feeling connected again."

On this episode, we speculated that maybe we spend so much time poking away at our phones on social media, because ultimately it's not very satisfying.

We keep scrolling and liking because we're trying to get something that those info snacks just can't give us.

Gina agrees. "We have an entire industry of some of the brightest minds out there designing these feeds to be something that you stay in no matter what," she says.

"I see moments -- and bright spots -- in us being able to move past this sense of social networks and feeds as digital slot machines, but I think it's going to be a long transition, because this stuff's designed to be addictive," she says.