Rhetorical Disconnects

There are two main ways that family groups connect via technology: social media sites or messaging apps. This site describes an app somewhere in between those two. The audience and environment is much narrower than social media, but the audience of any given utterance is customizable in a way not available in a group message.

Generally, a user’s needs for family connection are often not technologically aligned with their needs for wider social connection—that’s what social media is for. On social apps, communicating with family sometimes means communicating with a wider social network. Even worse, communicating with a wider social network sometimes means communicating with family.

If a family, or any familial group, opts to use the app, they have subtracted the excess social field and meaningfully changed their audience to only their family. This is also true of any app, as well as group text messages.

So the key design feature of this app allows users to recognize the various rhetorical situations within a family and to select their audience based on their communicative purpose, instead of modifying their speech to fit a generic family audience.

By taking the conversation away from social media, a family group can include those who might not "do" one social media app or another. This change in environment and audience has other benefits, such as avoiding social media's issues with user privacy, content, and security, which are part of its nature.