The #1 Question Asked Every Day About Reel You and Why the Answer Is a Better Reflection of Your World

Jay Alberts
6 min readMar 10, 2021

“Who exactly will see my moments? I thought everyone would see them.”

Social networks have melted our brains into thinking that sharing with everyone is the only way to share. I get asked every day about how sharing works in Reel You, including on a recent podcast appearance with Dez & Marco.

Answering the same question might seem exhausting, but for me it’s energizing. The answer is not just what differentiates Reel You from other platforms, but it’s also the source of our most positive and inspiring feedback from “Reel Yousers.”

The answer is selective sharing.

Selective Sharing, Conceptually

The way we built “selective sharing” is nothing new; you’ve already been doing it for years on your messaging application.

Sharing in Reel You works just like sharing in your messaging application.

When you open your messaging app, you see a list of all your conversations with other individuals and groups. Each of these is shared on a conversation-to-conversation basis: just because you have a conversation with one person doesn’t mean they can see your other conversations (just as you can’t see theirs).

Similarly, each of your moments in Reel You has its own unique sharing settings. Moments can be shared with an individual, a group of people, or you can keep the moment to yourself by not sharing at all. People can only view and participate in moments they are included in: someone cannot see moments they aren’t in and they can’t see your Reel as a whole (just as you can’t see theirs).

Selective Sharing, IRL (In Reel Life)

Step 1: Create a moment in Reel You
Imagine you just hosted a game night at your house with a group of friends. Create the moment and selectively share it with your game squad.

Step 2: Everyone contributes
Each Reel Youser adds their photos, stories and more to create a collective memory of the experience. It isn’t “your” moment, it’s “our” moment.

Step 3: Repeat
If next week’s game night is with your family, create and share a new moment with them!

Your Reel collects all of your game night moments in the same place even though they are shared amongst different game night crews. Just because you shared a moment with someone in the past doesn’t mean you need to share everything with them in the future and, luckily, you aren’t beholden to seeing everything they create either.

The Sharing Spectrum

Imagine sharing on a spectrum from Facebook to a journaling application.

On one end stands Facebook where 100% of your posts are shared and, on average, with 338 people. On the other end, 0% of your journal entries are shared — heaven forbid anyone see!

Reel You has carved out a personal space in the middle of this spectrum where digital sharing meets real life. As one Reel Youser noted, “Sharing is centered around people who were part of the experience instead of sharing with the whole world.”

For most humans, socializing doesn’t occur at the edges of the Sharing Spectrum. The data from Reel You suggests people don’t like to share everything (approximately half of moments are shared) and, when they do, they only share with a handful of friends (the average shared moment includes ~3 people).

The all or nothing approach of other platforms doesn’t give us choice and doesn’t represent the dynamic way we interact with each other.

The Way We (Actually) Share

Dunbar’s number suggests we can maintain up to 150 connections at once. Circles of people are nested within the 150 and house our closer relationships. Outside of 150 and any level of intimacy becomes hard to sustain.

Look familiar?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms disregard any notion of intimacy and smash all of your people into one giant group called friends, followers or connections. Given enough time, this mega-group most closely resembles the “Recognizable People” circle.

Google+ infamously bellyflopped an attempt to make sharing look more like day-to-day life. They knew the “friends” approach was wrong, but didn’t realize their “circles” just took the same problem and made it significantly harder to manage. Younger people are now flailing in multiple “Finsta” (fake Instagram) accounts in what I presume is an unknowing self-infliction of the Google+ experience.

These rigid models do not reflect real life!

The way we actually share experiences is very fluid. People move in and out of the various Dunbar circles as our relationship with them strengthens or weakens over time. We evolve and grow into new chapters of our lives which include different people. Even the most intimate groups aren’t immune to changes.

There are thousands of amalgamations of our social circles which make it difficult for neatly-defined groups of “family” or “close friends” to survive over the long haul. Every day we share experiences (and plan new ones) with people from overlapping and ever-changing groups.

Social circles and intimacy levels aren’t static over time.

We’re too lazy to sustain the effort required to accurately keep our circles updated. The only way to digitally recreate our reality is through selective sharing and dropping the tired and inflexible concept of “friends.”

Selective Sharing Is Caring

Documenting your life with selective sharing is a great way to take care of yourself and others. You can boost your mental health and foster strong relationships without bombarding other people with your content.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people about their sharing habits and the following four themes emerged:

People don’t enjoy sharing things broadly.

“There is a lot of micro-anxiety and wasted mental space when worrying about sharing because there’s a risk factor when sharing with everyone you’ve known since middle school. Am I sharing too much or not enough? Do I really want to put myself out there to be judged by everyone?”

People are fatigued from oversharing.

“I disengaged because people were sharing for “internet points” and that’s unattractive.”

People like having control.

“I prefer applications like Snapchat and WhatsApp because of the more limited approach to sharing. I like Reel You for the same reason, plus it has a nice structure for finding things easily.”

People find intimate sharing valuable for building relationships.

“I want to share more intentionally with the people I care about. Because Reel You is private, I can share content purely for the joy of connecting with people and building upon real relationships.”

Reel You’s selective sharing approach taps into these key findings and is a better reflection of the way we experience the world.

It’s inspiring to hear how Reel Yousers get the positive feelings from sharing with none of the trade-offs we’ve grown accustomed to making. Sharing on a moment-to-moment basis removes the anxiety and stress from the process and allows us to be our authentic selves with no fear of judgment.

We’ve freely expressed ourselves in messaging applications forever. Now it’s possible to share experiences this way, too.