So I'm an old guy. I never grew up with the Internet being around, but helped bring the Internet into existence while working at Yahoo! That meant that it was an additive experience for me, to be muddied by all my old offline traditional baggage like social interaction preferences and such.
Trying to understand how the new generations who are growing up with the Internet all around them is sometimes a challenge. Seeing Meetro in action was like that.
At first, I didn't get Meetro. I do get instant messaging, having worked on Yahoo! Messenger and probably having one of the largest buddy lists around (a great help in debugging the Yahoo! Messenger login feature of Meetro haha). Using instant messaging is great for a variety of reasons: work, keeping in touch, just saying hi, etc. But these were with a defined list of friends. With Meetro, it's not like that. You don't have just friends visible and available to talk to; you have the entire universe of logged in users and sorted by those close to you.
Being an old world guy, I am used to people being physically close…or not close. You see them. You smell them. You can touch them…maybe if they let you. With Meetro, they were close…virtually. How weird is that?
And they were total strangers.
Many thoughts entered my mind as I stared at the initial screen of Meetro where you see a huge matrix of pictures of people who are logged in now. A little more clicking and you find out they are actually close to you, maybe at the table next to you…!
Do I just talk to them over IM? How do I approach them over IM? What do I say? Is this socially acceptable? What will they think of me? Will people think I’m weird throwing an electronic hello to them? Will they reject me?…I hate rejection!
This goes on for a couple of days and then I get my first random IM from someone in the Philippines.
Whoa. But I wasn't there to return the IM and couldn't reply (c’mon guys get the offline messenging feature up!).
Then a day later, someone from Russia pings me. Some more in the U.S. And I'm around for many of these now and we have some decent short conversations with people I didn't know. Amazing!
It was like a light bulb lighting up in my brain. All of a sudden, I viscerally experienced how and why someone would meet and contact a total stranger over Meetro. I suddenly UNDERSTOOD.
Social norms changing. Internet enables. Walls coming down. New interaction styles emerging. Total strangers wanting and now able to connect easily.
This is the stuff that our children, the people who are growing up with the Internet around all the time, are going to accept as normal while we, the old farts of half old way-half Internet, have to adjust and adapt to.
As an old world guy, I NOW BELIEVE. If you are old world too, will you believe? Or maybe the real question is: Can you?
REPRINTED FROM: Meetro HQ Blog
Check this Meetro widget out. Who's close to you?