On social media, your best friend announces their excitement to be starting a new job—but at dinner, they tell you they’re nervous. Your mom posts a picture of the family at Christmas, but what she doesn’t share is the story that made everyone cry tears of joy at the table (too personal). Your brother posts links to triggering political news articles because “more trolls = more engagement,” even though he doesn’t even like politics. And your sister posts pictures of a life she isn’t actually living—all in the name of “more likes.”
Where you hoped to find your friends, instead you found ads, bots, likes, filters, influencers, followers, misinformation, and more. Where you hoped to have meaningful conversations, instead you found yourself falling down the rabbit hole of blinking red notifications and an algorithmic feed of meaningless content. Where you hoped for a safe space to keep in touch with your siblings, family members, neighbors, and friends from college, you found content from people you’ve never met before—the whole thing feeling invasive, even creepy.
To have private conversations with the people closest to you, your only option has been through 1:1 direct messaging platforms. In most cases, these direct messages lived on social media networks that were still “listening.” Mention cameras or going fishing and suddenly the ads in your feed would change. And while you chat back and forth, other sections of your screen light up and flicker like lottery machines, tempting you to click back into ad land and scroll just a few more times. In a best-case scenario, the platform might be a stand-alone messaging app, but would be owned by a larger social network using it to mine user data.