Strava, The World’s Sweetest Social Network

Whether you’ve completed an Iron Man triathlon or barely managed three push-ups, Strava users will mash the “kudos” button for you

Clive Thompson
6 min readAug 31


Photo by Viktor Bystrov on Unsplash

The ills of social media are well known by now.

You’ve got sociopathic big-tech algorithms ceaselessly scrounging for hot-button posts that rile the masses. You’ve got doomscrolling. You’ve got trolling and dogpiling and entirely new bespoke forms of coordinated harassment being A/B tested as we speak. You’ve got Nazis, literal Nazis, all over the place now. You’ve got the persistent low-key Heisenbergian uncertainty about the authenticity of your own everyday behavior — i.e. whether you’re engaging in an activity because it’s fun or because pictures of it will look fun when posted online.

But I come here today not to recite these creeds with which you, fellow prisoner of the Internet, are well familiar.

I’m here to praise one of the sweetest and nicest forms of social media I’ve ever engaged with.

I will suggest that the success of this app is proof that it is, in fact, totally possible for us to socially network in a fashion that feeds and delights the human spirit.

Which social network is this?


Strava is a pretty simple concept: It’s a social network where people describe the exercise they’re doing. You can manually type in an activity — I played pickleball for 45 minutes — or, more often, the Strava app can autotrack it: If I start cycling, I’ll tell Strava I’m on my bike and it’ll track my distance and speed and how high I’ve climbed. You can also have an activity-tracker, like a bike GPS or a Fitbit, squirt the info to Strava.

The upshot is, you wind up sharing news of each moment you move your butt. You can add a description of what you did, or a witty headline, and some pictures.

But that’s about it. It’s not designed for sharing anything else, particularly. I mean … you could use it to post political rants about Lizard People, I guess? Like most high-tech apps, Strava is just a damn database with cute UI, so it’ll accept a screed about DC-area reptilians as readily as a paragraph about the…



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.