Digital Kinship: How the Internet Is Reacting to the Loneliness Epidemic & Understanding How The Innovator’s Dilemma Affects You


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 20, 2023

4 min read


Digital Kinship: How the Internet Is Reacting to the Loneliness Epidemic & Understanding How The Innovator’s Dilemma Affects You

In today's fast-paced and digitally connected world, loneliness has become an epidemic. Humans, who once lived in tribes and found kinship in communal gathering spots, now struggle to find a sense of belonging. Research has shown that social connection is crucial for our well-being, yet a significant portion of the population feels alone, left out, and misunderstood.

The rise of the internet and digital technology has brought about a shift in how we connect with others. The next 50 years will see a shift towards collective experiences, with digital connections playing a pivotal role. The lines between the physical and digital worlds are blurring, and online friends are becoming just as important as real-world friends.

Platforms like Bilibili have tapped into this need for belonging by creating interest-based communities. Originally catering to anime enthusiasts, Bilibili has expanded to include various topics such as music, dance, science, film, and fashion. What sets Bilibili apart is its engaged and retentive communities. By building friction into the onboarding process, Bilibili ensures that its communities are comprised of superfans. This exclusivity creates a sense of desire and fuels the internal motivation to overcome the hurdles.

The trend towards community-centricity is not limited to social platforms. In every sector, people are seeking human interaction and meaningful connections. Education companies, for example, are incorporating community-building into their products to enhance the learning experience. The best internet companies of the future will be those that help people discover and nurture online relationships.

While the internet provides opportunities for connection, it also presents challenges for traditional incumbents. The Innovator's Dilemma, as described in the book of the same name, explains why incumbents in established markets struggle to survive technological disruptions. Disruptive innovations allow new populations of consumers to access products or services that were previously only available to a privileged few.

Incumbents often dismiss these new competitors, believing that their existing customers will remain loyal. However, startups focus on capturing new customers who are willing to trade off some features for a lower price. This creates a dilemma for incumbents. If they dramatically cut costs, they risk devaluing their own products and losing their high-requirement customers. On the other hand, if they continue to invest in improving their offerings, they risk being surpassed by the new entrants.

Disruptive technologies are usually less performant and cheaper than their established counterparts. They create deflationary pressures in the market and are difficult for incumbents to react to. However, these disruptions often lead to more users, innovation, and a larger market opportunity than incumbents initially perceive. Ultimately, incumbents may struggle to disrupt their own businesses and must look outside for change.

In light of these insights, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Prioritize community-building in your business: Whether you're a social platform or an education company, fostering a sense of belonging and human connection should be at the forefront of your strategy. Building friction into the onboarding process, like Bilibili, can create a sense of exclusivity and desire among your users.
  • 2. Embrace disruptive technologies: If you're an incumbent in an established market, be open to the possibilities presented by disruptive technologies. Rather than dismissing them, consider how they can expand your customer base and create new opportunities for growth. Don't be afraid to invest in innovation and embrace change.
  • 3. Seek external sources of disruption: If you're an incumbent struggling to disrupt your own business, look outside for inspiration. Support startups and emerging companies that have the potential to challenge the status quo. By funding your successors, you can ensure that your industry continues to evolve and thrive.

In conclusion, the internet and digital technology have the power to address the loneliness epidemic by creating digital kinship and fostering a sense of belonging. Building communities, embracing disruption, and seeking external sources of innovation are key strategies for businesses to navigate the changing landscape. By understanding the challenges posed by the Innovator's Dilemma and leveraging the power of digital connections, we can create a world where no one feels alone or left out.

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