Predictions of a multi-faceted identity for Social Media in 2012

During my inspiration scavenger hunt my mind kept coming back to a quote by Chris Poole, founder of 4chan, that I had bookmarked a month or so ago.  "[Some social sites] would have you believe that you're a mirror," he said, "but in fact, we're more like diamonds." - multi-faceted. When I first read it, it struck me. And, each time I've returned to it, I've found myself equally inspired.

I, for one, Anna O'Brien am not the same person day to day. In the words of a 90's pop song that may be better left unrevived, "I'm a bitch. I'm a lover. I'm a child. I'm a mother. I'm a sinner. I'm a saint. I do not feel ashamed…" Well, that's not quite true. I do feel ashamed. I feel very ashamed. I am the first to admit that there are thoughts, ideas, and dreams I have that I never want anyone other than my closest friends to know. Still others that I don't want anyone to know. Those secrets I am only comfortable sharing with strangers on the internet cloaked in anonymity. These are the juicy bits that will come in the tell-all book my brother's sister's cousin will write. I fear it.

What I am getting at in a not so subtle way is that, social media as it stands now, does not support myriad different relationships and personalities we have. While sites like Reddit and 4chan appeal to the user who wishes to share information [read troll] cloaked in anonymity, Facebook provides a mass audience live feed that even your mother would feel comfortable reading. And she will. Often. However while these sites currently thrive, they live at opposite ends of the spectrum and both only currently provide a single use view. 

When Mr. Poole first made his point, he was attempting to attack mainstream social sites in their approach. What he did inadvertently was attack his own in the discussion. The future of social media and the prediction I am most certain of is that somehow one of these mainstream sites will evolve to allow you to become more multi-faceted. This is more than Google circles or Facebook friend groups. Those cater to organisation of content rather than the accurate portrayal of multi-dimensional identities.

What might this look like? It's hard to say. Perhaps it will be multiple usernames underneath a single user identity. Maybe it will be the ability to choose to post content to a public feed anonymously. Something tells me whatever the solution will be, it is likely going to be much more exciting than that.  And that's a good thing. Personally, I think social media could use a little more genuine innovation and excitement these days.

For more, read our Predictions magazine with contributions from Microsoft, Yahoo and Google and watch our Predictions video.

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