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

The Someplace Excellent crew.
Image: Courtesy of Somewhere Superior

What do we sacrifice when we opt into social media? We exchange everywhere from a modicum to a large chunk of our mental health and fitness — not to mention a big quantity of privateness — in order to join, to obtain the dopamine hurry of being quite “liked” online. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook operate on users’ feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, providing an endless, scrolling loop of aspiration, virtue signaling, and doom. Our existences on the net are by nature incomplete and supposed for usage. Is it achievable to carry your entire self to a social-media platform? Is it achievable to get the link and dialogue we crave devoid of the doomscroll?

Somewhere Fantastic, a new social platform introduced very last thirty day period, intends to obtain out. The application is like nothing at all I’ve observed before it is voice-recording dependent, for a person. It not only needs users to concur to a set of group pointers, it also invitations them to collaborate and make ideas to develop and boost them. What is most striking, having said that, is the way it is built.

There are no followers, no likes, no individual feeds or profiles past the quite essentials: name, pronouns, site, and image. At the moment, the application involves 4 “worlds” that users can decide on to enter: Artist Rituals, Communal Treatment, Radical Library, and Deep Discourse. Each individual day, a new prompt is introduced for just about every earth, and consumers can history their individual responses and/or reply to the responses of others. This is all represented in the kind of a path that curves again and forth across your smartphone display screen. And it was developed by Annika Hansteen-Izora.

Somewhere Good’s most important feed.
Image: Courtesy of Somewhere Excellent

Hansteen-Izora, who makes use of they/she/he pronouns, describes themself as a queer artist, writer, and designer. Her multidisciplinary artistic output contains art directing, poetry, a publication, memes, person encounter and website design, a e-book titled Tenderness: An Honoring of my Black Queer Joy and Rage, and far more. His get the job done expands our imaginations to what the world wide web can be, and his individual individual use of social-media platforms exemplifies that.

Hansteen-Izora spoke with us about how Somewhere Good came to be and how to use the world-wide-web for nourishment, group constructing, and probably even private growth.

How are you accomplishing? This month has been notably extreme, in the environment and by extension on the web. 

It’s so much depth immediately after intensity. This yr, I have been definitely attempting to disengage from the rapid noise of social media and really give myself some time to course of action away from the monitor. So I have been kind of offline this 7 days, just holding every little thing.

When you have been on the net, has Somewhere Great been a supply of convenience for you?

It has permitted me to go to a area that feels tranquil and feels like it is shifting at a slower pace. So substantially of social media is, by style, condensed information and facts — it is manufactured to be bite-dimension. So the internet feels faster paced. It’s been seriously relaxing to go to a room where by I’m still conference my wish to link with people today and converse with people today, but in a digital realm that is slower, and that is allowing for a little bit far more vulnerability, a bit a lot more contemplation, and an capability to keep uncertainty.

I have listened to you use the time period digital backyard garden in describing your get the job done. What does that indicate?

I understand digital gardens as on-line areas the place several persons are coming with each other to tend to seeds, which can be understood as written content. The container that electronic gardens are held in is a dedication to sustainability, pluralism, and cyclical advancement. It involves adaptation and a tradition of mastering.

How were you capable to deliver collectively your tech and layout abilities with your curiosity in constructing neighborhood? Did a single occur 1st? 

I grew up in a family that was also holding diverse intersections at the exact time. My spouse and children has really deep roots in Black artistry and Black artwork communities, and my dad was seriously into technology, truly into gaming. I could see that both factors could exist at the similar time. When I was developing up, the world wide web was this kind of a massive way that I accessed Black neighborhood, Black know-how, queer know-how, the queer archive. As my partnership with my art deepened, the online was often a tool facilitating that.

Social media is built to make us all consumable, which translates into turning people into makes. Brand names have 1 solitary concept, and they’re often signaling that just one precise, digestible information. I’m a multifaceted artist I’m a designer throughout world wide web and product and model. I’m also a author, I’m a poet, I’m a multimedia artist. In order for the world wide web to be a device that brought a sense of discovering and joy, I had to hack it in a way that would make it possible for for that multiplicity. That is how I method being on the net suitable now.

A further expression you have usually utilized in speaking about your operate is interdependence. How do you cultivate interdependence, and exactly where did you initial come upon the strategy?

I came to that phrase by means of understanding about incapacity justice as somebody who is neurodivergent and who has located that I simply cannot do all this by itself. I do not assume that we’re meant to navigate our lives solo. That is a narrative that Western lifestyle, especially when it’s at the intersection of capitalism, actually enjoys to keep — the narrative of hyperindividuality. I was in a place with my psychological wellbeing exactly where I seriously necessary guidance. Interdependence offered a route that honored the treatment of the self along with the treatment of others and showed how people two are really in loving relationship. Mariame Kaba says, “Everything worthwhile is carried out with other people.” I definitely stand by that. One particular of the bravest and most groundbreaking things we can do is treatment for a person another.

How does the app align with all of these own beliefs and tactics of yours? 

On Somewhere Good, we structure around relationship. So there are no followers, likes, ads, or algorithms suggesting information. There is no countless scroll. We seriously required to take a look at what it would look like if we created a social-media platform that moves in opposition to hierarchy and producing people today into brand names. We’re also deeply imagining about what treatment and protection imply when developing online connections that truly feel far more tender and meaningful and not so transactional and extractive. We have a set of local community tips, which is a residing doc that our buyers can increase recommendations to. We’re imagining about what it would look like to create a moderation method that doesn’t really feel carceral, that actually can be rooted in some of the principles of transformational justice. And we’re imagining about citation, guaranteeing that creators and people today on the system are adequately credited for their contributions.

You were being a large component of the inception of the application and the design and style of it — could you speak about where it arrived from and the layout process?

I was formerly on the workforce at Ethel’s Club, a wellness platform for individuals of colour started by Naj Austin, who is also the CEO of Someplace Good. When the pandemic came, we required to change to an on the web technique. We set about thinking, What would it glimpse like to have an on-line system that is about significant link, that is also about putting marginalized men and women initial and not dealing with them as an afterthought?

I led style and design throughout all visible touchpoints. I was considering about what joy appears to be like to me on the net, and I was introduced back again to before conceptions of playful on line spaces: Neopets, Club Penguin, Microsoft Paint, individuals early chaotic days of MySpace, tailored Tumblr weblogs. When I feel about the style and design of social-media apps today, it’s extremely clean up and extremely minimalist, lending by itself to digestibility. The design and style of Somewhere Fantastic roots by itself in playfulness and maximalism with nuance. We’re incredibly colour driven. We have a established of icons that were being all developed by artists of coloration. We bring in collage operate. I wished this design and style to feel like you are arriving at a playground.

Can you communicate about the decision to make Someplace Good audio based mostly and the intention guiding it?

Our to start with values are rooted in deepening link, and in honoring and supporting Black expression. Oral tradition is deeply rooted in Blackness. There’s a certain vulnerability in audio, and we required to take a look at that intimacy. There is a deepened relationship to our selfhood with voice. There is a nuance that voice captures that typically is not located in other mediums, and a further notice.

Black tradition operates the web, but it isn’t revered. It isn’t valued it is not cited. So it’s a highly effective point, setting up from a position that is honoring Black expression on line, when it’s experienced so a lot of an influence but not a great deal of regard and not a lot of care surrounding it.

What purpose do you see Someplace Excellent actively playing in the more substantial social-media landscape? What do you aspiration of for the app’s long run?

I’m thrilled to see the means that we can assistance individuals in connecting with far more intention and tenderness, and the strategies that we can really encourage people today to understand, archive, and join to one particular another as sources of knowledge. We’re also considering additional about connecting the on-line working experience to IRL experiences, and what the potentials are in an online system that is thinking about IRL connection as properly. I’m really excited for what that can seem like.

I adore that — on most social-media platforms, the level is to hold you on the net. By nature, they can not really encourage you to are living a life outdoors of that. 

Precisely. In just one of our early checks, we experienced a “weekend mode.” That intended that the app was not available on the weekend, and instead there was a display that instructed users “we are not listed here. Take pleasure in your knowledge outside of this app.” Though we don’t have the weekend display screen any more, we’re imagining about what a social system appears like when it in fact does not want its people to be on it continuously and instead is a software that can help their life off of the app as nicely.