Here is an idea for a social networking app. I’m sure it is not new. It is based upon my own personal needs and desires so it may not appeal to anyone else. I’m not a developer and have the programming skills of a slightly evolved banana so I will never be able to make this myself. I don’t care if it’s a dedicated desktop or mobile app. It could be cloud based. The point here is that if anyone wants to take this idea and run with it you are more than welcome to and please consider me with my hand fully raised with credit card in it to purchase a copy. Plus, I’m an introvert so what do I know about “Being social”? With this in mind, here we go…

The problem with current social networking and communication apps for me is that these tools may help one meet new people and form new relationships but they hardly can replace real face to face communication. I believe this is by design. Facebook can only make money and thrive by keeping you on Facebook. Same with Twitter. They do this by fostering the feeling that you are “keeping up” with others while not truly encouraging interaction beyond the service.

Words mean things. I believe emotionally charged words like “Friend” and “Follower” are designed to make you form a tighter bond within, and by extension with, the service. Furthermore, things like Foursquare and Facebook’s Places seem to me just another way to keep you interacting with the service even when you are supposed to be interacting with the real world.

Even tools like Skype and Facetime can help to give one the illusion of this sort of connection but it is still just as virtual in nature. It is not the same as sharing a meal, a conversation over coffee, or a hug (I like hugs) with nary a computer or smartphone seen.

The app I want would help you take these relationships that you have started to form on the service, or have neglected because of same, and suggest ways to take them to the next level.

It would do things like look at your social networking contacts and suggest ways fro you to meet based on location:

“Hey. I see you and this person you follow both live in Saint Paul and trade replies all the time. Would you like to send them a message proposing lunch?”

It would suggest people you have not had a “conversation” with in a while:

“Hey. I see you and this person have not traded replies or direct messages in a while. Want to send one now just to say hi?”

It would even suggest ways for you to meet those folks whom you follow that are not local:

“Hey. I bet you and this person who you converse with have never met. Flights from MSP to BOS are fairly cheap right now . Want to investigate further?”

Basically, it would help you use these services to make real, lasting, face-to-face connections and gently remind you when you are letting the tool supplant them and suggest ways to help.

I don’t need another Twitter app. I don’t need more suggestions of who to “follow” or “friend”. I don’t need an app that ties all of these services together to make it even harder for me to find the signals within the noise. What I need is a way, and the occasional nudge, to reach out and make real connections.