Airdrop fits the niche of “peer to peer ad-hoc short range communication utilizing technology that everyone already has” which is something that is severely lacking in the social media landscape.
You can analyze how social media has evolved similarly to how the internet evolved and how the infrastructure was influenced by capitalism (and more knowledgeable people than me already have) but that’s not what i care about. I care more about how “real” and “virtual” social interaction are blending together in a way that we haven’t seen before.
Social media is just a form of long-distance realtime communication, which fits into its own niche: connecting people who normally wouldn’t connect. it almost functions as a (to absolutely butcher the sociological terminology) “fourth place.” It connects people who already met in real life but who cannot communicate directly, but it also connects you to people who you would never meet irl.
Because social media is an evolution of this, it fills the same niche. it removes location and proximity from the social equation, but in doing so, it becomes an alternative, not an augment, to “real” interaction.
There are cool ideas to change this, like Scuttlebutt, but they tend to focus on the decentralized technology at work. The idea of airdropping things to people is exactly what is needed.
- Since it’s short range, it augments pre-existing social gatherings, rather than providing an alternative. It brings electronic communication to the third place rather than creating a fourth.
- The only prerequisite for participating in this second layer of communication is owning an iPhone. There’s no extra setup or specific app to download, it’s a (relatively) open platform.
It’s also important to point out that this form of “social media” wasn’t thought up by some capitalist, it was organically conceived by a generation who grew up during a time where real and virtual life are increasingly mixed and yet perpetually separated.
It’s decentralized non-hierarchical augmented reality in a field where the only real players are hierarchical reality and centralized virtual reality and i’m here for it (if only i owned an iPhone).
TL;DR: y’all sociologists are having a fun time with us and i’m sure you’ll have even more fun with gen alpha