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

The Someplace Good workforce.
Photograph: Courtesy of Someplace Fantastic

What do we sacrifice when we choose into social media? We exchange everywhere from a modicum to a massive chunk of our mental overall health — not to mention a huge sum of privateness — in buy to join, to acquire the dopamine rush of currently being fairly “liked” on-line. Platforms like Twitter and Fb run on users’ feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, supplying an infinite, scrolling loop of aspiration, virtue signaling, and doom. Our existences on-line are by nature incomplete and intended for use. Is it doable to deliver your whole self to a social-media system? Is it attainable to get the relationship and discussion we crave without the need of the doomscroll?

Someplace Excellent, a new social platform introduced previous month, intends to uncover out. The application is like absolutely nothing I have found ahead of it’s voice-recording centered, for a single. It not only needs people to concur to a established of group guidelines, it also invites them to collaborate and make suggestions to expand and increase them. What is most hanging, however, is the way it is created.

There are no followers, no likes, no personalized feeds or profiles beyond the very fundamental principles: title, pronouns, spot, and image. At present, the app incorporates four “worlds” that consumers can pick out to enter: Artist Rituals, Communal Care, Radical Library, and Deep Discourse. Each working day, a new prompt is launched for just about every environment, and buyers can document their possess responses and/or reply to the responses of some others. This is all represented in the form of a route that curves back and forth throughout your smartphone monitor. And it was designed by Annika Hansteen-Izora.

Someplace Good’s principal feed.
Image: Courtesy of Someplace Fantastic

Hansteen-Izora, who makes use of they/she/he pronouns, describes themself as a queer artist, writer, and designer. Her multidisciplinary inventive output features artwork directing, poetry, a newsletter, memes, person expertise and world-wide-web design and style, a guide titled Tenderness: An Honoring of my Black Queer Pleasure and Rage, and extra. His do the job expands our imaginations to what the internet can be, and his personal particular use of social-media platforms exemplifies that.

Hansteen-Izora spoke with us about how Someplace Great came to be and how to use the world wide web for nourishment, neighborhood setting up, and maybe even own development.

How are you carrying out? This month has been notably intensive, in the globe and by extension on the world-wide-web. 

It’s so substantially depth immediately after intensity. This yr, I’ve been actually making an attempt to disengage from the speedy noise of social media and in fact give myself some time to method absent from the display screen. So I’ve been sort of offline this week, just holding everything.

When you have been online, has Someplace Very good been a supply of ease and comfort for you?

It has permitted me to go to a place that feels peaceful and feels like it’s moving at a slower rate. So a lot of social media is, by structure, condensed information — it’s created to be bite-size. So the online feels more rapidly paced. It is been really soothing to go to a area in which I’m however conference my want to join with persons and talk with men and women, but in a digital realm that’s slower, and that is allowing for a bit additional vulnerability, a little bit much more contemplation, and an capability to maintain uncertainty.

I have heard you use the expression electronic back garden in describing your perform. What does that signify?

I realize electronic gardens as online spaces in which many individuals are coming jointly to have a tendency to seeds, which can be recognized as information. The container that digital gardens are held in is a determination to sustainability, pluralism, and cyclical advancement. It involves adaptation and a culture of finding out.

How ended up you able to bring together your tech and layout competencies with your curiosity in developing community? Did just one occur 1st? 

I grew up in a home that was also holding diverse intersections at the similar time. My relatives has actually deep roots in Black artistry and Black artwork communities, and my father was truly into engineering, really into gaming. I could see that each issues could exist at the same time. When I was increasing up, the internet was such a major way that I accessed Black neighborhood, Black expertise, queer expertise, the queer archive. As my partnership with my art deepened, the world wide web was always a instrument facilitating that.

Social media is developed to make us all consumable, which translates into turning individuals into brands. Models have one single information, and they are generally signaling that 1 unique, digestible concept. I’m a multifaceted artist I’m a designer across website and product and brand. I’m also a writer, I’m a poet, I’m a multimedia artist. In order for the online to be a software that brought a perception of understanding and pleasure, I had to hack it in a way that would enable for that multiplicity. Which is how I approach remaining on the net right now.

A different term you have generally applied in discussing your operate is interdependence. How do you cultivate interdependence, and in which did you initial experience the principle?

I came to that phrase by finding out about incapacity justice as somebody who is neurodivergent and who has found that I cannot do all this alone. I really don’t feel that we’re intended to navigate our lives solo. That is a narrative that Western tradition, particularly when it’s at the intersection of capitalism, actually enjoys to keep — the narrative of hyperindividuality. I was in a put with my mental health where by I definitely essential support. Interdependence supplied a route that honored the treatment of the self alongside the treatment of other individuals and showed how those two are in fact in loving romance. Mariame Kaba says, “Everything worthwhile is carried out with other persons.” I actually stand by that. A person of the bravest and most innovative matters we can do is care for 1 a different.

How does the application align with all of these particular beliefs and techniques of yours? 

On Someplace Fantastic, we design around relationship. So there are no followers, likes, adverts, or algorithms suggesting articles. There is no endless scroll. We truly preferred to explore what it would glimpse like if we designed a social-media platform that moves in opposition to hierarchy and earning persons into manufacturers. We’re also deeply considering about what treatment and security necessarily mean when producing online connections that experience far more tender and significant and not so transactional and extractive. We have a set of neighborhood pointers, which is a residing doc that our end users can include solutions to. We’re wondering about what it would look like to develop a moderation technique that does not sense carceral, that in fact can be rooted in some of the principles of transformational justice. And we’re pondering about citation, ensuring that creators and people on the system are properly credited for their contributions.

You ended up a huge element of the inception of the app and the design and style of it — could you discuss about the place it came from and the design and style process?

I was beforehand on the workforce at Ethel’s Club, a wellness system for individuals of coloration launched by Naj Austin, who is also the CEO of Somewhere Fantastic. When the pandemic arrived, we desired to shift to an on-line approach. We set about pondering, What would it glance like to have an on the web platform that is about significant connection, that is also about putting marginalized persons first and not dealing with them as an afterthought?

I led style across all visual touchpoints. I was thinking about what pleasure looks like to me on the web, and I was brought again to earlier conceptions of playful on-line spaces: Neopets, Club Penguin, Microsoft Paint, individuals early chaotic times of MySpace, customized Tumblr weblogs. When I believe about the design and style of social-media applications right now, it’s pretty cleanse and very minimalist, lending alone to digestibility. The design and style of Somewhere Great roots by itself in playfulness and maximalism with nuance. We’re very color driven. We have a established of icons that have been all produced by artists of colour. We convey in collage function. I wished this design and style to really feel like you’re arriving at a playground.

Can you converse about the decision to make Somewhere Excellent audio primarily based and the intention behind it?

Our initially values are rooted in deepening connection, and in honoring and supporting Black expression. Oral custom is deeply rooted in Blackness. There is a particular vulnerability in audio, and we preferred to take a look at that intimacy. There is a deepened link to our selfhood with voice. There is a nuance that voice captures that frequently isn’t located in other mediums, and a further focus.

Black society runs the internet, but it is not highly regarded. It is not valued it isn’t cited. So it is a impressive thing, constructing from a spot that is honoring Black expression on the internet, when it’s had so substantially of an affect but not a whole lot of regard and not a large amount of treatment encompassing it.

What role do you see Someplace Very good taking part in in the more substantial social-media landscape? What do you aspiration of for the app’s potential?

I’m excited to see the methods that we can aid people today in connecting with extra intention and tenderness, and the ways that we can stimulate folks to understand, archive, and connect to one particular an additional as sources of knowledge. We’re also wondering much more about connecting the on-line practical experience to IRL experiences, and what the potentials are in an on line platform that is imagining about IRL relationship as perfectly. I’m genuinely thrilled for what that can search like.

I adore that — on most social-media platforms, the issue is to continue to keep you on line. By nature, they cannot inspire you to dwell a lifestyle exterior of that. 

Specifically. In just one of our early assessments, we experienced a “weekend manner.” That meant that the application was not offered on the weekend, and instead there was a display that explained to customers “we are not below. Get pleasure from your working experience exterior of this application.” Whilst we really do not have the weekend screen anymore, we’re considering about what a social system looks like when it basically does not want its buyers to be on it consistently and alternatively is a instrument that can guidance their life off of the app as properly.