2019 – Social Networks, Tribes and the Irrelevance of Search

Step into the DeLorean, crank it up to 88 mph and let’s go back to the future.

We’re careening down a path leading back in time to a tribal society, a digital society, where communication is exclusively among tribal members. Knowledge is shared among the members through one-to-one interaction. And where all things outside of the tribe become alarmingly irrelevant.

The catalysts for this societal shakeup are social networking giants MySpace and Facebook. Text messaging and Twitter “tweets” facilitate tribal communication while on the go. How we interact as a society will become exceedingly compartmentalized by 2019 and serve to further isolate and polarize the Earth’s population. This is the exact opposite of the vast potential to unite the planet that we saw in the internet just a few years ago.

Upon initial examination it would appear that the internet has expanded our ease of knowledge sharing and communication. Certainly in the early days (present time) search engines made it possible to tap the collective intelligence of the planet. Barriers to worldwide communication crumbled thanks to wireless devices and the internet.

Through the expansion of offerings from social networking companies, a decade from now, you’ll have established tribes of our own and won’t need the likes of Google, Yahoo, Bing or Ask. You’ll have a Facebook tribe for keeping connected. Your Twitter tribe for sharing your daily activities. Your Digg tribe for news. Your Diigo tribe for knowledge sharing. Your UrbanSpoon tribe will tell you where to eat. Your Buzzillions tribe, what to buy. Your WebMD tribe, why your back aches. And you’ll have a Friendfeed account to keep track of it all. Talk to the neighbors? What for? They’re not part of your tribe. Search Google? Why? Your tribe has all the answers.

If you’ve done a good job establishing your tribes — Friends, Groups, Followers, etc., you’ll never need to go outside of your networks for any interaction, knowledge sharing or information gathering. One of your tribes will certainly include a member that can answer your questions and satisfy your every need.

Traditional media advertising, already struggling, will take a backseat to the Word of Mouth recommendations of your tribe. Companies that embrace social network marketing will thrive.

In the future, gaining tribal membership will be quite challenging as we become more selective. The vetting process will be similar to a fraternity or sorority rush, complete with digital hazing. Only those with the most to offer your tribe survive the selection process.

As you embrace the social web, build your networks carefully. They will profoundly impact your opportunities, people’s impression of you, your capabilities, and even your personality.

Is social networking all fun and games? Well, just as it was in high school — run with a bad crowd and it will eventually cost you.

Is my vision of the future a positive or negative one? Let me know what you think!