Connecting the world shouldn’t be a controversial idea.
But in our current tumultuous climate, we seem to have abandoned the idea of a global village and the premise that the world is better off with greater connection among countries and cultures. This is why Facebook recently had to reassert its commitment to global village, updating its mission statement to give “people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Bringing the “world closer together” was always the grand ambition of the web — its very name evoking a visual of our interconnected-ness as people. We are intertwined digitally, while separated physically.
In recent years, however, we have seen the focus of most platforms shift from global village to personal paradise (filtered info, friends, and worldview). One of the underlying reasons for the change from global to personal is that connecting to the world at large also brings its share of problems — finding a sense of civility in a much larger public square, and finding some semblance of shared norms across diverse backgrounds and cultural experiences. We have had first-hand experience with this difficulty, spending a lot of energy to strike the appropriate balance of vibrancy and civility with content moderation tools, kicking out bad actors, etc. Global connection truly is a double-edged sword.
Here at Friendbase, we are focused on digital entertainment. We provide a platform — a virtual world for teens — where users across the world come to chat, create, and play. On the surface, it is all fun and games. And YES — we are focused on exactly that. But beneath the surface, we, like many others, have a much larger purpose:
We believe that building a platform for new friendships across the world breaks down walls of misunderstanding. Social media and online communities are a tool that — as we have seen — can either unite or divide us. Our underlying goal, beneath the friendly avatars, is to build bridges across digital divides. We believe the future is global.
In January of last year we reached out to our users to ask them about the global friendships that had made through Friendbase, asking them to take a screenshot with their best friend on the platform (including the country of each friend). “I’ve learned that true friendship continues to grow, even the longest distance,” wrote one user from Iceland, whose best friend on Friendbase is from the Philippines. We had a screenshot of friends from America and Afghanistan, India and Chile. Pairings that you might not always assume — which, of course, is exactly the point.
To claim that the future is global isn’t looking at the web through rose-colored glasses or being Pollyannaish — it is merely reasserting that very goal of the online world since the late 90s — to bring the world closer together.