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I’ve written a few times about MeWe. I pointed out that our instinctive dislike of MeWe‘s exposed our hypocrisy with respect to privacy concerns. I talked about how my first and second Facebook suspensions were driving me towards MeWe despite my instinctive dislike. I then took a thinly veiled stab at Facebook. So here I am trying to find a replacement for Facebook, but it’s been tough. Last weekend, I posted the following to Facebook:
I’m really trying with #MeWe, but it’s just not going anywhere.
After navigating my way through some commentary that were mere diversions, I reached a conclusion as to why I’m having so much trouble with MeWe. Sure, the privacy protections make MeWe unwieldy, but that’s because it isn’t meant to be used the way we use Facebook. With Facebook, it’s all about “friendships.” I hate that they use that term. We’re not necessarily friends. “Connections” would be more accurate, but less marketable. Obviously, the latter is Facebook‘s concern, but I digress. To use Facebook as intended, you should have as many connections as possible. MeWe‘s technology isn’t conducive to that, but I get the impression it isn’t meant to be.
I think the idea behind MeWe isn’t about making numerous direct connections. Instead, the idea is for you to join groups that cater to your interests, and interact with people within those groups. That is, you’re not supposed to just post a random thought on your timeline and expect to receive reactive comments from your connections list, nor are you supposed to see the random thoughts of your connections hitting your timeline and giving you an impulse to rant. Instead, you’re expected to do these things within the groups you’ve joined, thus reducing the noise on the site, and avoiding the need to connect directly with other accounts in a way that could compromise your privacy.
And MeWe is great with groups. I’m a member of many music-oriented groups, and despite song lyrics often addressing sociopolitical issues, I’ve never once seen a sociopolitical debate in those groups. We can discuss the lyrics of, for example, Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones, which are about the civil unrest of the 60s, in particular the Vietnam War, race riots, and Charles Manson. As long as we discuss the Stones’ opinions and don’t inject (or at least don’t emphasize) our own opinions on analogous modern subjects, there’s no true mixing of politics and music in a way that spoils the group. If you want to share your opinions on modern issues, there are plenty of political groups available that are designed specifically for that. Go there. You may even see many of the same people there. Problem solved. Everyone’s happy.
In contrast, I’m a member of a Far Side group on Facebook. I’ve never once seen a post that didn’t devolve into a sociopolitical debate. I’m not exaggerating. Every single Far Side post is a debate between Republicans and Democrats, vegetarians and meat-eaters, etc. It’s maddening and typical of Facebook. Perhaps when MeWe gets more popular, it’ll devolve into that as well, but for now, these groups really work well.
So why am I still having trouble with it? Simple: I’m not used to it, and Facebook keeps my brain from adjusting. On Twitter, I have over 40 accounts. No shit. Over 40. I do that to reduce the noise. GSLLC is for gaming, music, and other assorted nerdity, MMADork is for sports, PropertyAtty is for law, and RobertEBodine (seldom used) is for politics. (The other accounts are anonymous satire accounts or related to a gaming project I’m working on.) I’ll never cross those streams on purpose because I’m doing my part to keep the noise down. Nevertheless, even Twitter has the same effect on my brain because none of you follow the same practice. My GSLLC stream is loaded with politics I don’t want to discuss (or even read) there, and filters are only so good at keeping those topics out. As a result, Twitter also keeps my brain from adjusting. Transitioning to MeWe successfully is going to take a lot of work. For me, that’s worth it — I’m very concerned with the antitrust implications of the Facebook/Twitter oligopoly — but I don’t know that it’ll ever be worth it for you (until you’re severely censored).
Plus, there are the small things. For example, I’ve turned off automatic notifications of chat messages, but I still get the audible ding whenever someone posts a group chat message. I can’t turn it off. More importantly, MeWe is missing distribution lists. Google+ introduced me to them because they had them from the start. Facebook eventually followed suit, but not before I had well over 1,000 Facebook connections. It took a lot of work to place all of you onto list. One of these days, MeWe will wise up and introduce them, and that’s going to create a lot of work for me. Finally, I’ll mention that MeWe avoids ads. Hooray! Right? Well, not really. In order to maintain the site and make a profit, some features require payment. We hate ads, but we’re used to not having to pay directly for social media, so most of us won’t pay for those features. Again, it’s our hypocrisy. We’re not bad people, but we’re continually making our own bed with this, and I hope enough people are paying for MeWe Premium ($5/month) that the site stays afloat.
I’m not giving up. I’m going to make this work eventually.
Follow me on Twitter @gsllc