If you’re reading this, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what BuzzIt is, but you might have wondered why we’re building it in the first place. After all, there are some similar apps out there and many more that have tried and failed in the general space of proximity-based social. Even if we can succeed where others have failed, and take on the venture-backed giants that stand in our way, is this helping anyone? Are we solving a problem, or is this just a new way to waste time online?
I’m sure you guessed my answers: yes, yes, and no, respectively. In fact, BuzzIt is not another digital distraction; we’re trying to solve a complex problem that is pervasive across our society, and do it in a way that is fun and fits seamlessly into real life.
Unless you have a degree in social psychology and you’re familiar with ‘Pluralistic Ignorance,’ the problem isn’t easy to describe directly. But everyone can relate to the following situation:
Imagine you’re sitting in class, when the teacher wraps up a monologue and asks, “Was that clear for everyone?” You didn’t get it and consider raising your hand but quickly look around and see no one else with their hand up. Not wanting to look stupid, you keep quiet.
This leaves you feeling like (A) you’re the only one that didn’t get it, or (B) – and this is how I usually feel – that no one else in the entire room of 100 people was paying enough attention to realize how terrible that explanation was. In both situations, the end result is that you feel like none of the people around you are anything like you; you feel like you’re alone among your peers.
The classroom example is something that everyone can relate to, but it’s not the only place where this is a problem. Companies blunder their way towards disaster even when the majority of employees see it coming because each individual thinks they are the only one that sees the problem and are therefore afraid to speak up. Abuses of power go unchecked because people don’t believe that others would back them up if they said ‘stop.’ And the list goes on (read about the Bystander Effect & Groupthink).
At the root of this is the fact that our society has a self-censorship problem. Basically, we’re too ready to find a reason to not say what we think. Sometimes it’s because of social norms (ex: no talking on transit), but most of the time it’s for more personal reasons. It could be as simple as not wanting to interrupt, to get caught asking a stupid question, or to cause trouble by correcting a superior. Or maybe we’re too shy to draw attention to ourselves, or we just don’t know to whom we would say something. Granted, we have these inhibitions for a reason, but where we run into trouble is when we’re unwilling to break the silence, even when there’s something that needs to be said.
“where we run into trouble is when we’re unwilling to break the silence, even when there’s something that needs to be said”
You would think social media would help, but it doesn’t. We worry too much about our online image to talk about what we really think. And there’s no use explaining what’s happening right in front of us to our ‘friends’ and ‘followers’; if they’re not there they won’t get it and they can’t help anyways. Social media can actually make things worse; when we’re tuned in to what’s happening elsewhere, we tune out what’s happening right in front of us.
Whatever the reason for social silence, it’s all such a waste. Not just wasted potential learning time and company productivity, but wasted opportunities to connect with the people around us. If no one else can see the elephant in the room, how could those people be anything like us? If they’re not like us, how could we trust them? And how can we be friends with people we can’t trust?
But really, we’re all more similar than we are different. Everyone else sees the elephant in the room but is afraid to point it out.
This is why we’re building BuzzIt. With BuzzIt, we’ll be able to send those thoughts out to the people that are seeing what we’re seeing, just as easily as sending a single text. And, when we get replies back and find out that other people think like we do, simply knowing that we have something in common will help us feel the relaxed, engaged, confidence that we only get when we trust the people around us.
Want to help make this happen? Signup for our beta by clicking here.