Social-first: The new way to live

Last week I watched this interview between Chamath Palihapitiya and Robert Scoble and found myself nodding vigorously as Chamath articulated a phenomenon that has been swirling around my head for a while: people are beginning to do things in the real world for the purpose of sharing them online.

I think people will simultaneously have two opposing reactions to this. On one hand, people will disagree and say only techie weirdos and middle schoolers put their social media life ahead of their real lives. On the other, people will identify with times they have exhibited this behavior but write it off as a not a big deal.

In my opinion, these reactions are just wrong; a ton of people behave this way, and it's a very big deal.

So what if this is true? Initially, it's kind of a terrifying notion, and the questions that logically follow are almost offensive. Is it possible that people get more happiness from their new profile picture in front of Machu Picchu than from the trip itself? Could they be happier the day they got 400 likes and congratulations on Facebook than on the day they actually got engaged?

If the answers to these questions are yes, you could reply that what appears to be social-first behavior is actually real-life-first behavior because people are simply sharing real experiences with real people who are sitting on the other side of those social media accounts. I don't quite buy that though; this feels like the same circular and semantic logic people employ when claiming that a mother who gives everything to her child is actually selfish because she's doing what makes her happy.

Social-first is a spectrum; not everyone does it, and not everyone who does it does it does it all the time. But I'm pretty sure this is a fundamentally new and growing trend. I know that I sometimes observe this behavior in myself and most people I've discussed this with have as well.

When a surprising new behavior is observed, it's better to embrace it than to deny it's existence. Instead of writing this off, we should build products that use this phenomenon to make us better people.

So what if our Pinterest account makes us take up a new hobby as we show off our newly reupholstered chair. Or maybe we read a book on [Oyster]( because we know we can broadcast this activity to the world when we're done. And isn't it better to travel to exotic places than not, even if our new cover photo is the part we enjoy most?

Social-first living is an uncomfortable idea, but it is a real and growing secular trend, and we should have products that welcome it with open arms.