The “High Five”-ification Of Social Media, And How It Slowly Kills It

I’m sure there aren’t many of my readers who remember High Five. I’m not gonna lie, even for me it seems quite strange at times, but it was a real thing. The reason it’s difficult to remember it is because it happened long time ago, like more than 10 years (gosh, 10 years is a long time ago…). So chances are that you weren’t around to witness its rise and demise. But there might be also another reason, and that’s the visibility of other social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit (or, more recently, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok).

High Five was a very strange place. It exploded very fast and then went down just as fast, if not faster. When it was clear that nobody will use it anymore, it became some sort of a joke, people started to use its name in a derogatory way. Like if you’re in still in High Five, you’re not only obsoleted, but not in tune with the very last trends. Oh, High Five, what a joke, nobody hangs around there anymore, it’s an empty shell…

If you would happen to visit that place just before they closed it for real, at the bottom of its fall, you would be simply baffled by the amount of stuff going on. There were tons of icons, an incredibly ugly and disfunctional UI, weird animations, you name it. You would have a really hard time understanding where’s the actual information. High Five was the mere definition of clutter.

But it was a clutter so specific, that I decided to call it “High-Five”-ification. It’s a type of clutter that will eventually engulf all social media platforms (or at least all social media platforms with a certain business model, more on that in a bit).

You see, every piece of content on a High Five profile page had only one goal: harvesting attention. “Highfivers” were desperate to gather attention (just like todays influencers, only with less elegance) and they didn’t have the granularity of marketing tools that we have today. So they were literally throwing rocks, trying to catch flies. You would feel aggressed beyond ridiculous.

That’s happening today too, only they have more sophisticated marketing tools. They’re just targeting better, and drip the content in such a way that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Yet. Because, like any other resource, the attention that they need to harvest is limited. It needs to be replenished, so they add more and more triggers to it. Even if they use these very subtle hooks, they will eventually reach a tipping point, from where it will be just like High Five.

And the main reason for that is the scarcity of attention. That, and the business model, namely advertising. All social media platforms based on advertising are functioning with attention. That’s their fuel. I find it almost ridiculous that, in terms of software, all social media platforms are really simple applications, their value comes from the number of people producing content. Without content or people, these platforms are just empty shells, they have absolutely zero value.

This attention that people contribute is sold to advertisers, and that’s how the circle gets closed. Until a certain point, this works relatively well, but, eventually, the attention pipe is clogged and you can’t really reach to the other side, no matter how much you spend. It’s becoming impossible to differentiate between relevant content and advertising, so people stop consuming that thing.

“High Five”-ification is the noise to information ratio after which content is not consumable anymore.

Facebook is nearly there, in my opinion. Twitter and Reddit are coming hard from behind. As for TikTok, it was already born like this. TikTok functions only in attention spans lower than 1 minute.

Tokenization And Attention

In this advertising based business model, the pressure on attention comes from the outside. Communities are created and primed with the end goal of being sold, and outside actors are putting more and more pressure on the generated attention, in order to sell their own products, whatever they might be.

Tokenizing a community (like Hive, or other social media platforms built off of blockchain) slows down dramatically this process.

First of all, those who are contributing attention have a way to become stakeholders. The token of the platform stores the value they generate, and, if they so choose, they may own that token in various quantities. In the current setup of Facebook or Twitter, people owning shares of those companies, aren’t stakeholders in the community, they are stakeholders in the company. Big difference.

Second, because there is already a token, there’s no need to sell attention directly. If you want attention, spend the token on the content you want to make visible, BUT, if you do this, everybody holding the token will be influenced by it. The effect of using the token will ripple to all the members of the community. And if the content doesn’t generate attention, then the token value will simply dilute. As a result, if stakeholders will see their investment going down, they will innovate (that’s what happened in Hive, with all the extra projects and tools that are popping out, from DeFi to NFT). This checks and balances mechanism is healthier than the gross selling of attention. Of course, at a more subtle level, there’s always some form of attention that is brokered, it’s just that tokenization gives a “value grip” to that attention to those who are generating it in the first place.

And third, the token will make it real. If, like I said above, there won’t be any more attention generated, then the token will plunge. The community will simply vanish. Or, it will reinvent itself. Whatever the outcome, it won’t linger around, propped by outside money trying to squeeze the last drop of energy and attention to sell whatever they want to sell. A token gives a much more accurate image of the social community platform than whatever the Zuckerbergs out there will choose to present in their annual report to their shareholders.

The 1 million dollar question is, though, “are tokenized communities immune to High-Five-ification”?

I tend to believe the answer is “yes”.

This doesn’t mean a tokenized social platform can’t die anymore, it just won’t die of this cause, of this information obesity. It may disappear from more natural causes, but, while it will be alive, at least it will thrive and give a better ROI to all the stakeholders.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.