For 10 days in September, Annie and I were about as unplugged as we've been in a long time. The pace of life we lead during our trip to Paris was just about perfect. It was, honestly, the first time I've ever thought about retirement and how awesome a land line telephone and owning a cheese shop could be. A couple times throughout our stay, Annie and I split off to go explore on our own. It is always good to have some alone time to wander the streets and observe life for no other reason than your own enjoyment. One afternoon, I found a small side street with an alcove patch of grass and three identical looking cafes on each side. I sat down at the one in the middle and ordered a Bordeaux. As I slowly sipped the generously poured glass of wine, I took in the conversations and group make up at each of the tables around the square. No one except the Americans three tables over had their phones out. Everyone seemed to be genuinely enjoying just the people they were with and, though I don't speak French, I am pretty sure trending topics, Vine vs. Instagram video, and Buzzfeed articles weren't the conversations of the day.
As I walked to meet up with Annie later, I couldn't help but think about the joy I'd felt being anonymous that afternoon. Not a single person knew who I was. I didn't understand a word that they said. But smiles and my three poorly pronounced words I know in French were enough to have a wonderful time. It then got me thinking a little bit harder about the life we live in public and what that looks like in the next five to ten years.
I am not bearish on social networks as we currently understand them. Facebook and Twitter are baked far enough into every other part of the web that they'll continue to matter, but more as piping and less as destinations down the road. So if that is true, the bet is not to short them, but to consider what kind of true conversation will we want to take place with ourselves and the real friends we have in the future? What is the bet to make that isn't the demise of what is currently hot (except for Frontback, make that go away) but instead, where are things headed in how our behaviors and social norms have adapted to living life in public and understand each other only though the carefully curate highlight reels we share online?
What is the typing point where earning the chance to unplug and be alone is the new logged-in?