I’m not one for social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram because I feel that meaningful connection can be lacking there (that’s my chief reason of a few that keeps me off them), though I will try out new players like BeReal just to see what’s new in the online space.
As such, when a friend sent me a picture of her Bondee – a miniature version of herself that looked remarkably like her – I was intrigued.
Having spent some time with Bondee – I have to say it’s so far been great. The Singapore-based platform brings a lot that’s new to the table and makes it accessible, fresh yet familiar, at the same time.
I’ll get into all the reasons why, but let’s get the whats out of the way first.
What’s Bondee about?
What do you do in Bondee? First, you create two things: your avatar, and your room.
Thereafter you curate them, having the option to save multiple looks and multiple spaces (though you can only have one room on display at a time).
Whenever you boot Bondee up you’ll land on the home screen, on which you’ll find yourself alongside all your other friends (you can have up to 50) each doing their own thing.
Through updating your Status, you can reflect your mood or current activity through a wide array of very expressive animations.
To further flesh out your Status you can also write something that will appear over your Bondee in a speech bubble, or even upload photos and videos of yourself.
You can also see what’s new with your friends’ spaces by clicking on the Neighbors tab while you’re in your own room. That will show you all your friends’ spaces at a glance, stacked around each other.
You can also chat with your friends individually or in groups, go sailing on a boat for a chance to win weekly prizes, visit one another’s spaces and leave notes for them to find.
Bondee was launched less than two weeks ago by Metadream, so I’m looking forward to seeing what other new features the developers will bring to the table (I’m hoping for more rooms and perhaps some games!).
Some reasons Bondee works
1. Same same but different (and that’s good!)
For how refreshing it is as a social media platform, Bondee appeals to a broad audience because it is also familiar.
Gen A and Gen Z users would see a little Roblox in it, while Millennials may think of Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin in their time with Bondee.
Others familiar with games like The Sims or other early platforms like MySpace and Friendster would likewise be drawn to its pretty world of personal touches.
It helps then, that Bondee is mostly very accessible in form and function. There are some minor UI and UX issues they need to work out in the menus, but you could argue such vagueness to be Bondee’s charm in how it drives exploration of its world.
So it is Second Life without the bloat or stigma, a baby Metaverse without its more overt barriers to entry like decentralised worlds, wallets and currencies (though NFTs are on their way in Bondee’s world).
Against all that, Bondee simply goes: “Here’s a room and clothes, just get crazy with it and go hang out with your friends.”
2. It’s intimate, cosy, casual
Ironically, in a game that’s all about building and maintaining walls, Bondee makes for a far more cosy and intimate experience than other platforms like Instagram.
For starters, you can only have up to 50 friends on your account so that narrows your audience to a far more select group of people you give access to.
There are no feeds from brands or influencers, no reels to endlessly scroll through; I have, as yet, detected no real sense of FOMO or other predatory tactics at play here.
Personally, it’s been more about hopping in when I want to, updating my status or sprucing up the place if I feel like it, and checking in on my friends’ spaces and leaving a fun note or two.
3. You can express yourself in healthier ways
In an online culture that is much driven by outrage, attention and flexing, Bondee is a breath of fresh air simply because it neither chases those things nor takes itself too seriously.
It doesn’t focus on flaunting stuff and status, but on updating one another about daily life in more personal way.
“I know I won’t get triggered to feel bad about what I have or don’t have in the same way I would feel if I used Instagram or Facebook,” was how one of my Bondee pals put it.
There are a broad but set range of emotional states and statuses that you can pick from, and yet the result isn’t homogeneity but an equaliser of sorts — everyone’s cute, everyone’s spaces are cute, and everyone’s updates are cute.
That means it’s all worth seeing (assuming you chose carefully who you let into your world) and it’s impossible to do so without being wholesome!
All that is great, because this adorable little world you are dropped into, by default, has healthy parameters in place around expression which gently guides how you interact with one another.
How Bondee’s got me rethinking hanging out
When I was much, much younger, I would look at my Instagram account with around 300 followers and wonder how I could grow that number.
I thought that bigger numbers were what it meant to be “social”, to be seen and liked by many.
Bondee takes its users back to an older time by leaning on timeless things like the simple surprise of receiving a letter.
So, what I like about Bondee is that it veers away from that formula. For all its fresh coats of paint, Bondee takes its users back to an older time by leaning on timeless things like the simple surprise of receiving a letter.
Its focus on conversations and human expression without the social media stuff that many have grown fatigued by, is what is refreshing and has gotten me thinking about new forms of fellowship.
It probably has to be said, I don’t believe you can truly know me from my Japandi room or avant-garde art installation where my Bondee stares into a picture of myself (I have future plans to do a room up where I’m singing on the mic to a room full of nothing but cat pictures).
I don’t know if any social media platform will ever enable that to happen (maybe it’s just not clicked for me, YMMV) but Bondee looks to be a promising step in the right direction for meaningful connection.
It gets a little closer to the spirit of fellowship and the heart of hospitality, which is to prepare a space for people.
A complement for fellowship
As a cell leader, I also find myself feeling strangely relieved at Bondee’s emergence.
I now have this tool that’s fallen into my lap which allows me to check in on cell members in a disarming, cute and convenient way.
Obviously, logging in every now to interact is no substitute for the actual work of putting in the hours to meet them in person and have honest and meaningful conversations about life and God.
But I see Bondee as a cute little complement when it comes to that serious stuff. It’s a quick way to leave encouraging notes in someone’s space, or check in on people when their Bondee looks sad.
Cell leading is tough, long-term work and I’ll take all the help I can get — adorable or not.
The modern world online is all about optimisation and pathways, so after my time with the app thus far, I’d like to see Bondee as a digital pathway or stepping stone into actual connection in the real world.
I see your Bondee is dancing and celebrating. I enter your room and leave a note to ask, what’s up? Your Bondee texts me, saying that your university application was finally approved. We meet up in real life to celebrate that.
Even if a pathway doesn’t play out quite like that, it’s a step in the right direction that I want to see more of as social media continues to evolve.
Bondee’s only about two weeks old, and it remains to be seen what the developers next bring to the table. Might be good, might be bad — hope it’s the former.
For now though, you’ll find me sailing into the horizon excited about what’s to come (look out for my message bottles!).
- Are you on Bondee? What do you think of it?
- What does fellowship mean to you?
- How does the Bible define fellowship?
- What is one practical thing you can do this week to show a friend you care? Do just that!