Is ‘Somewhere Good’ the Long term of Social Media?

The Somewhere Excellent staff.
Photograph: Courtesy of Someplace Excellent

What do we sacrifice when we decide into social media? We exchange wherever from a modicum to a massive chunk of our mental well being — not to point out a huge amount of privacy — in buy to hook up, to get the dopamine hurry of getting quite “liked” on the internet. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook run on users’ feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, furnishing an limitless, scrolling loop of aspiration, advantage signaling, and doom. Our existences on the internet are by mother nature incomplete and intended for consumption. Is it achievable to convey your total self to a social-media platform? Is it possible to get the relationship and discussion we crave without the need of the doomscroll?

Someplace Good, a new social platform released final month, intends to locate out. The app is like very little I’ve found in advance of it is voice-recording based, for just one. It not only necessitates consumers to agree to a set of community rules, it also invites them to collaborate and make ideas to broaden and improve them. What is most placing, nonetheless, is the way it is designed.

There are no followers, no likes, no private feeds or profiles outside of the really fundamental principles: name, pronouns, location, and photograph. Presently, the application features 4 “worlds” that people can select to enter: Artist Rituals, Communal Care, Radical Library, and Deep Discourse. Every single day, a new prompt is introduced for every single planet, and people can document their own responses and/or reply to the responses of other individuals. This is all represented in the form of a route that curves again and forth throughout your smartphone display screen. And it was built by Annika Hansteen-Izora.

Somewhere Good’s principal feed.
Photo: Courtesy of Someplace Fantastic

Hansteen-Izora, who uses they/she/he pronouns, describes themself as a queer artist, author, and designer. Her multidisciplinary innovative output consists of artwork directing, poetry, a e-newsletter, memes, user knowledge and internet layout, a guide titled Tenderness: An Honoring of my Black Queer Pleasure and Rage, and much more. His perform expands our imaginations to what the online can be, and his possess own use of social-media platforms exemplifies that.

Hansteen-Izora spoke with us about how Somewhere Superior arrived to be and how to use the world wide web for nourishment, community setting up, and potentially even personal advancement.

How are you undertaking? This month has been particularly intense, in the planet and by extension on the net. 

It’s so much depth soon after depth. This calendar year, I have been actually seeking to disengage from the rapid sounds of social media and basically give myself some time to procedure away from the display screen. So I have been form of offline this 7 days, just keeping everything.

When you have been on the net, has Someplace Great been a resource of comfort for you?

It has authorized me to go to a place that feels silent and feels like it is transferring at a slower rate. So a great deal of social media is, by style, condensed data — it is built to be bite-dimension. So the web feels faster paced. It’s been definitely calming to go to a place wherever I’m nevertheless meeting my desire to hook up with people today and communicate with persons, but in a electronic realm which is slower, and that is letting for a little bit a lot more vulnerability, a bit a lot more contemplation, and an capability to keep uncertainty.

I have read you use the phrase electronic back garden in describing your perform. What does that indicate?

I understand digital gardens as on the internet spaces where by numerous persons are coming together to are inclined to seeds, which can be understood as content material. The container that digital gardens are held in is a motivation to sustainability, pluralism, and cyclical growth. It entails adaptation and a lifestyle of finding out.

How had been you ready to deliver together your tech and layout expertise with your desire in creating group? Did just one come initial? 

I grew up in a household that was also keeping unique intersections at the exact same time. My relatives has genuinely deep roots in Black artistry and Black art communities, and my dad was definitely into technological know-how, definitely into gaming. I could see that both equally points could exist at the similar time. When I was increasing up, the web was this sort of a major way that I accessed Black group, Black awareness, queer awareness, the queer archive. As my marriage with my artwork deepened, the online was often a resource facilitating that.

Social media is built to make us all consumable, which translates into turning men and women into brands. Brand names have a person single information, and they’re usually signaling that just one certain, digestible message. I’m a multifaceted artist I’m a designer across world-wide-web and item and brand. I’m also a author, I’m a poet, I’m a multimedia artist. In get for the net to be a software that brought a feeling of finding out and joy, I had to hack it in a way that would let for that multiplicity. Which is how I strategy remaining online proper now.

Another phrase you have typically applied in speaking about your function is interdependence. How do you cultivate interdependence, and in which did you initial come upon the idea?

I arrived to that expression by studying about incapacity justice as an individual who is neurodivergent and who has observed that I can’t do all this alone. I really don’t feel that we’re meant to navigate our life solo. That is a narrative that Western lifestyle, especially when it is at the intersection of capitalism, really loves to hold — the narrative of hyperindividuality. I was in a position with my psychological overall health the place I really needed aid. Interdependence offered a route that honored the care of the self together with the care of other folks and showed how those two are essentially in loving partnership. Mariame Kaba suggests, “Everything worthwhile is finished with other individuals.” I definitely stand by that. Just one of the bravest and most innovative items we can do is treatment for one particular yet another.

How does the application align with all of these personalized beliefs and methods of yours? 

On Somewhere Excellent, we layout all-around relationship. So there are no followers, likes, adverts, or algorithms suggesting material. There is no countless scroll. We really needed to explore what it would look like if we made a social-media system that moves against hierarchy and producing people into brands. We’re also deeply wondering about what treatment and security mean when developing on the web connections that come to feel far more tender and significant and not so transactional and extractive. We have a established of group tips, which is a living doc that our consumers can incorporate recommendations to. We’re imagining about what it would look like to build a moderation process that doesn’t really feel carceral, that really can be rooted in some of the rules of transformational justice. And we’re contemplating about citation, making sure that creators and individuals on the system are correctly credited for their contributions.

You have been a significant portion of the inception of the app and the design of it — could you chat about wherever it arrived from and the design and style procedure?

I was formerly on the group at Ethel’s Club, a wellness system for men and women of shade launched by Naj Austin, who is also the CEO of Somewhere Superior. When the pandemic arrived, we needed to change to an online tactic. We set about wondering, What would it glimpse like to have an on the net platform that is about significant relationship, that is also about placing marginalized people initial and not managing them as an afterthought?

I led structure throughout all visible touchpoints. I was thinking about what joy appears to be like to me on the online, and I was introduced back again to earlier conceptions of playful on the internet spaces: Neopets, Club Penguin, Microsoft Paint, people early chaotic days of MySpace, custom-made Tumblr weblogs. When I believe about the design of social-media applications these days, it’s really clear and extremely minimalist, lending alone to digestibility. The design and style of Somewhere Excellent roots alone in playfulness and maximalism with nuance. We’re quite colour driven. We have a set of icons that ended up all produced by artists of coloration. We convey in collage do the job. I wanted this structure to experience like you are arriving at a playground.

Can you chat about the final decision to make Somewhere Very good audio dependent and the intention powering it?

Our very first values are rooted in deepening link, and in honoring and supporting Black expression. Oral tradition is deeply rooted in Blackness. There’s a specified vulnerability in audio, and we required to examine that intimacy. There is a deepened link to our selfhood with voice. There is a nuance that voice captures that frequently isn’t discovered in other mediums, and a deeper attention.

Black lifestyle operates the web, but it is not respected. It isn’t valued it is not cited. So it’s a potent detail, setting up from a place that is honoring Black expression on the internet, when it’s had so substantially of an effects but not a large amount of regard and not a lot of care bordering it.

What purpose do you see Somewhere Very good playing in the larger sized social-media landscape? What do you dream of for the app’s long run?

I’m psyched to see the ways that we can support persons in connecting with additional intention and tenderness, and the strategies that we can inspire persons to learn, archive, and hook up to one particular a further as sources of know-how. We’re also contemplating much more about connecting the on the web expertise to IRL encounters, and what the potentials are in an on-line system that is thinking about IRL connection as well. I’m truly enthusiastic for what that can seem like.

I adore that — on most social-media platforms, the point is to hold you online. By character, they can’t inspire you to are living a lifestyle outside the house of that. 

Accurately. In just one of our early checks, we experienced a “weekend manner.” That meant that the app was not out there on the weekend, and instead there was a monitor that told buyers “we are not listed here. Delight in your knowledge outside the house of this app.” Even though we never have the weekend screen any more, we’re imagining about what a social system looks like when it basically does not want its buyers to be on it constantly and instead is a tool that can assistance their lives off of the application as perfectly.

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