How Math and Discord are Changing the Way We Connect

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Glasp

Sep 07, 20234 min read

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How Math and Discord are Changing the Way We Connect

In today's interconnected world, our attention is constantly divided between various platforms and technologies. From social media to online gaming, we are bombarded with information and opportunities to connect with others. But how does this constant stream of stimuli affect our ability to remember and form meaningful relationships? This article explores the intersection of mathematics and social media, specifically focusing on the concept of collective memory and the rise of Discord as a popular social platform.

Mathematics shows us how we lose interest over time. According to David Eagleman, a person only truly dies when they are forgotten. This idea suggests that a person's life can live on in the subconscious minds of others, even if they are no longer actively remembered. This concept of collective memory is crucial in shaping our identity and how we see ourselves as part of a larger group. Moreover, the act of choosing what to commemorate and remember influences the structures and priorities of society.

A recent study analyzed various forms of online attention to understand how collective memory decays over time. The researchers used attention as a proxy for memory and analyzed online views of Wikipedia profiles, citations of physics papers, patents, and online play counts of songs and film trailers. Their findings revealed a mathematical pattern of decay, specifically a biexponential function with two distinct phases. The initial decline in attention is steep and dominated by communicative memory, which involves the transfer of information through word-of-mouth. The subsequent decline is slower and relies more on cultural memory, which is sustained by the physical recording of information.

Interestingly, different forms of media exhibit varying rates of attention decay. Music, for example, shows the shortest and sharpest initial decline, lasting only six years, while the online biographies of sports stars experience the longest decline, lasting 20 to 30 years. This suggests that the accessibility and searchability of different forms of media play a role in their longevity within collective memory.

This brings us to the rise of Discord as a social platform. Discord, along with other platforms such as Houseparty, Squad, Twitch, and TikTok, offers a unique space for Generation Z to connect and share experiences. Discord stands out because it provides a clear indication of who is online and offers voice chat rooms that function like permanent virtual spaces. Instead of making a phone call, users can simply enter a voice chat room and start conversing. This lowers the barrier for communication and encourages more spontaneous interactions.

The future of social media lies in expanding social graphs and venturing beyond existing groups. As social networks grow larger, they can become increasingly stifling and less conducive to authentic self-expression. Discord provides a solution to this problem by offering a space where users can form closer connections with a select group of individuals. It serves as a stepping stone between online gaming communities and personal messaging apps like LINE. By design, Discord prioritizes conversation over endless scrolling, news feeds, and chasing likes. It aims to fulfill the original promise of social media, which is to connect people.

To further lower the barriers to communication, platforms can provide prompts or starting points for conversations. For example, Instagram's Stories, Zenly's location sharing, and FRYDAYS' calendar events can serve as conversation starters. Additionally, platforms that incorporate anonymous features like question boxes or anonymous messaging apps can help facilitate communication for those who may be hesitant to initiate conversations.

Discord's success lies in its ability to create communities where influencers and fans can connect. In recent years, many gamers and top YouTubers have used Discord to build their own communities, leveraging the platform as a way to engage with their fans. This shows the potential for Discord to serve as a hub for niche communities and bring people together based on shared interests and passions.

In conclusion, the intersection of mathematics and social media offers valuable insights into how our attention and memory function in today's digital age. Understanding the decay of collective memory and the rise of platforms like Discord provides us with actionable advice on how to foster genuine connections in an increasingly fragmented online world. Here are three key takeaways:

1. Recognize the importance of collective memory and the impact it has on shaping identity and society.

2. Embrace platforms like Discord that prioritize conversation and connection over performative acts and popularity chasing.

3. Lower the barriers to communication by providing prompts, starting points, and anonymous features to encourage authentic conversations.

By following these insights, we can navigate the complex landscape of social media and foster meaningful relationships that stand the test of time.

Resource:

  1. "Maths shows how we lose interest", https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07719-w (Glasp)
  2. "Z世代のたまり場、Discordが変えるSNSの世界|石ころ|note", https://note.com/ishicoro/n/na2b7a71e3a3c (Glasp)

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