Photo credit: Georgia Green

Contributed by Gabrielle Marino, Junior at UNC School of Media & Journalism, Chapel Hill

Thanks to social media, I know a lot about my friends. I know Erin is “Facebook official” with a frat guy she has been seeing (that’s “Millennial” for seriously dating.) I made sure to “like” Allie’s many Instagram posts about studying abroad in Qatar. Meanwhile, I re-watched Kelsey’s Snapchat Story and felt like I was sitting front row with her at the Beyoncé concert. I can tell you who they are dating, what party they went to last Saturday, when they lost their virginity and where they interned last summer.

The question I am often left pondering is why?

Sometimes I want to know the stories behind each picture and post to understand why my friends “like” what they like and do what they do. I enjoy the time we spend watching reality TV, or just sitting around quietly together scrolling through our phones. But sometimes I want a deeper connection and understanding between us. Sometimes I want to have those soulful conversations that allow us to delve into our own belief systems, our values and opinions.

So I decided to lock my friends in a room free of technology and ask them 1001 questions. (Yeah, I didn’t think that would work either.)

Instead I invited them over to play a bunch of rounds of this new app I discovered called LikeSo. If you haven’t tried it, LikeSo reminds me of the guessing game Heads Up! It has all of the fun and surprise of Heads Up!, but also sparks conversations, allowing you to really connect and go deeper.

IMG_1472Playing LikeSo’s conversation game with friends is fun. The app prompts you with words and questions that get you talking and are sometimes thought provoking, like “Do you care about popularity?” “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” or “How would your friends describe you?” The fast-paced nature of LikeSo leaves you no time to filter yourself. It can challenge your assumptions about your friends while giving you the chance to playfully defend your own perspectives. And the bonus? LikeSo allows you to practice being a better, more confident speaker – to not only understand your stance on issues, but to practice speaking on your feet, articulately and with conviction.

I am glad that apps like Heads Up! and LikeSo humanize the app experience. It’s easy to demonize technology and blame it for the natural disconnect among friends. But all forms of communication have their time, place and use. One is not necessarily better than the other. Snapchat filters and retweets are the natural progression of social communication. And the fact is that socializing and communicating often takes place over a funny meme or videos online. A healthy media diet of all types of communication is what I propose.

And, every once in a while it’s nice to get outside your comfort zone and dig a little deeper to finally figure out the why.

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