Other than winning the Coolest Title of the Week contest by penning “The Ability to Be Fascinating” in the New Yorker, Hilton Als hails Jemima Kirke a breakout star of Girls, an opinion I definitely agree with. Whenever she is onscreen, I murmur some version of “why is she so awesome?” Als gets at something slightly more profound:
“she’s less interested in our approval than she is in being watched.”
And I think that sums up my generation’s stance on living a socially shared life. We want the attention.
Here’s a list of potential motivations for sharing so much online:
- We want validation
- We want to create a better version of ourselves online
- We want to document our lives
- We want to connect
- We want that cute guy/girl to notice us
All of the above: we want to be watched.
This is obviously important to social app makers.
To maximize the amount you’re watched:
- you need to seem interesting
- you need a willing audience
If you have both of those components on a platform (in a ratio that works), you’re ready for success.
I seem fascinating
Instagram: you look cool through artsy photos you take, and there are people there to like and comment on your content. Bonus! Filters make you look way more attractive than Facebook m-uploads ever did.
Foursquare: you check in to cool places, people take notice.
I don’t seem fascinating
Words with friends: friends were there, but we only see each other choosing lame words due to limited vocabularies. We abandon.
Turntable.fm: the room was crowded, but it’s hard to fake that you’re a dj after a few visits, your music tastes aren’t that awesome. Abandoned.
Social apps need to give us the ability to be fascinating to others, to set us up for success in the quest of seeming interesting.
The need for more ways to express interesting-ness will only increase as personal identity merges with online identity. So social app makers, get on it and give me a new way to channel my inner Jemima Kirke.