Emphasizing face-to-face over Facebook

Press photo

Have you ever been emotionally distressed after scrolling, reading, liking or commenting on friends’ posts on Facebook? Do you obsessively check your Twitter timeline for updates, and find yourself unsatisfied and hungry for more?How about those reblogs on Tumblr? And those Instagram posts?

The OverNear application has been available for free in the Apple App Store, since July 30. Press photo

Don’t fret if your answer is yes to one, all, or any. According to entrepreneur and app developer, Bill Glaser, you’re not going crazy. There is an actual reason for this feeling – and it’s something we don’t even realize as we stare at our screens.
“The greater [our] use of it, the more likely that people are going to be lonely, and people are going to be depressed,” said Glaser, citing a combination of various news reports and the research of several German universities on the effects of social media.

Glaser explains that although the goal of social media is to connect people, it disconnects us because of the selective nature of our posts, which typically show off only our best side.Take Foursquare for example, you use your smartphone to “check-in” or register your location to show off to your friends. “It was a gamification of visiting a place, where the more you visit the area, there is an opportunity to earn points [for frequently checking in], and eventually becoming the Mayor of that place,” said Glaser.

“People only want to show their best moments online to their friends, and the result is a distorted view of the reality of their lives,” Glaser said. He believes this results in people questioning why their lives are not as amazing as their friends’ lives appear to be.

Since there is also an element of anonymity behind the screen, Glaser came to the conclusion that interacting on social media can sometimes be superficial. This status quo prompted him to rethink the idea of social interaction and that’s how his app OverNear was created.

He explains how it’s not just one more social network added to the heap, but rather a productivity tool to link people to a certain area. Think of it like a fusion of Facebook events without the RSVP, Foursquare without the gaming factor, and Twitter without the noisy newsfeed. You can register to the place you’re going, in real-time, to tell friends and family where you’ll be. As Glaser explains, “It’s kind of like a future check-in. You put a post on a place that you’re going. If your friends happen to come to that area…your friends will be notified.”

The application has been available for free in the Apple App Store, since July 30. It is still in beta development, so expect a few bugs. Glaser has not forgotten Android users and hopes to have a compatible version ready for download by early 2014.

A pun on the term “Over here, over there,” Glaser has high hopes for OverNear to become a successful tool for connecting people together. “I think we are at a forefront of a trend of spending less time behind the screen…Nothing replaces face-to-face interaction.”


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