Social media can be a tricky place. Yes, there are opportunities for friendship, networking and personal growth–but they come with the potential for harassment, the need to build a persona or a personal brand, and the constant awareness of just how public your words can be.
Writing for The Guardian, Ria Jenkins suggests that Nintendo’s first mobile app, Miitomo, hits a sweet spot for building and maintaining intimate friendships on social media:
To understand the difference between these two channels, lets put them in a real-world context. Twitter is effectively a digital pub – we can meet our pals for a quick catch up, but we risk being interrupted (and insulted) by the drunk guy at the end of the bar, and there’s always a chance we’ll get into a vicious argument that ruins everyone’s night. In comparison, Miitomo is a cosy gathering at someone’s home, a discreet collection of close friends (and friends of friends) getting together to chat, crack jokes and make fun of each other, free from random interruptions and misunderstood references.
Jenkins shows how Nintendo has mastered the feeling of intimacy that normally only comes from hanging out in private channels or on social networks that no one else uses. (RIP, Peach, we hardly knew you.) Better yet, it works well with the online friendships we already have:
What’s interesting, though, is how Miitomo can be used in conjunction with Twitter. Often we’ll have followers who we already know very well but also people we want to know better and to be closer to. By inviting them into another, smaller, safer and homelier digital space, we are able to sort of role play a closer friendship without the initial awkwardness of asking if we can chat to them off Twitter. By providing a question/answer set of responses, rather than an open messaging service, Miitomo mimics an actual conversation without the need for anyone to feel awkward about talking too long, cutting off too early or asking odd questions like “What’s the best thing about cats?”.
All that, and you get to make a version of yourself that wears strange clothes and speaks in an uncannily robotic voice? What’s not to like?