Connection Experiment Offers Alternative to Social Media
Like Facebook IRL
After using social media apps one day, teaching consultant Abram Ramal Katz was feeling as if his phone was telling him “you will be alone on a desert island crying.” So he decided to try something new.
The next day Katz went to the First Friday Artwalk in Ashland with a sign that had stats written on it you’d normally see in a dating profile.
“I decided to make a sign that said, ‘single 37 click here for more details,’” he says. “And just being playful with it not really trying to get something out of it or prove a point, but just like hey I wonder what it would be like.”
By doing this Katz met all kinds of different people.
“What I thought was kinda interesting was there was kind of a freedom,” Katz explains. “There was a permission for people to come interact with me as there is online. If someone uploads a profile, whatever it is [whether it’s] Facebook, or some dating site, some networking hub, they’re saying they’re available for interaction virtually. And it’ll say if they’re actually sitting by the computer or not. But by putting the sign on I was saying I’m available for human interaction.”
After meeting about 50 people in an hour and a half, Katz felt motivated to share his experience online. A few days later Katz officially created Connection Experiment.
Connection Experiment is a website that challenges users to interact with people in real life the way they do on social media. The first challenge or “assignment”, will be done in mass on Friday, August 7. Dozens of people will spread throughout Ashland with signs on themselves that read either “single click for more details,” or “quality connection click for more details.” If somebody “clicks,” by touching the sign, the sign holders will tell additional details about themselves.
The assignment after will replicate Facebook’s like button by having users tell random people something they appreciate about them. Users will then give the person they just complimented a gold star.
Katz hopes to make social change with his latest project. Katz says,
“What’s happening under the hood when people feel freed up to communicate like they do online, there is a really potent social change that’s taking place, because when we feel like we aren’t seen, we aren’t heard, we don’t have a voice, [and] we don’t respect other people’s voice, all of these things. … leads to a lot of disconnection and disharmony and eventually people putting themselves against each other.”
Katz says that when people feel like they are in isolation, they tend to grab their phone or computer and go to Facebook to see if anybody likes their post.
“That gets translated more often than not as, and I said that deliberately, as I validate you, I like you, I see you,” he says.
But despite appearances, Katz wants it to be known that he is not anti-technology or anti-social media.
“I’m not working against something,” he says. “I’m working to bring people closer. And actually it could be argued in a hundred different ways how the internet has brought people closer. And it can be argued a hundred different other ways how it is tearing people apart and changing the way we communicate.”
Katz would like to see Connection Experiment’s blog become an online forum where people can share their experiences and put up their own ideas for assignments.
Currently Katz is the sole website developer, organizer, and mind behind Connection Experiment. The project is still young. The website is only three months old, and the sole social media page is barely over a month old. Whether or not it will take off is still to be seen, but Katz feels the possibilities are huge.
“We created the internet, that’s what always trips me out, we’re responsible for it,” he says. “It seems logical that we would be empowered to create those types of interactions that we want in the flesh, in real time experiences.”
5pm, Friday, Aug. 7