The other day I saw a survey that claimed that 44% of all Danes would like to know their neighbors better.
In a globalized world, where we’re so busy figuring out when and how to travel somewhere next, this is somewhat a mind-boggling number.
You may say that you’re global. But the fact of the matter also is that most of us (not me though) live alone – many even single. We venture out to meet people, but when we are at base, we’re most often alone.
To more and more people that turns into a feeling of anxiety and even depression. The Covid-19 pandemic certainly hasn’t helped with psychiatrists reporting a large influx in ‘new’ patients who all have in common that just a year ago they would have been deemed far from in need of seeking help with their mental health.
So, having said all of that, it is comforting to see that once again there is a surge of interest in the hyperlocal space. In building local (mostly) digital communities, where people who might otherwise feel slightly isolated and alone can get a sense of belonging.
That’s the good part.
The not so good part is that for all the initiatives, I see being announced especially in Denmark, I have a feeling that they will be missing the target and the real opportunity.
Both Jysk Fynske Medier and JP/Politikens Hus have announced that they will be rolling out new hyperlocal mediainitiatives in select geographies in the coming months. It should be applauded. It not for anything else then for the jobs it’s going to create in a media industry that is by now more infamous for its frequent job cuts.
But is a hyperlocal NEWS site really the answer to the question of hyperlocal belonging? Maybe. But I am guessing ‘no’.
It will most certainly be able to fill a need to be informed about what’s going on around you. But is that enough to make you feel connected too? I doubt it. I think that in order to achieve that you need something more.
Considering all the issues with people feeling lonely and borderline depressed, the opportunity to find new ways to connect people and by proxy help build mental stamina and health seems both really good, worthwhile and as something that could have some interesting positive business consequences.
Because people are more than willing to pay for services and products that give them a feeling of being substantially better off on a personal level. And what is more personal than the sense of belonging, being part of something bigger, being seen, heard, appreciated and connect with likeminded people for various activities?
Not really that much.
So I will be curious to see who the first ones will be who make the bet to build a hyperlocal model not based on information as the primary thing but on the psychological levers to make the individual feel better as it’s core.
That’s a really intriguing and cool opportunity.